The Los Angeles Dodgers are making a run toward the top of the National League West thanks to their recent success and hope to continue the push Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers are beginning a nine-game road trip at Coors Field and will play 13 straight games against division foes. Even though the Dodgers sit last in the NL West standings, they're only 3 1/2 games off Arizona's pace for division bragging rights.
Los Angeles has won eight of its last nine games and took three of four from the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, including Sunday's 6-1 victory behind rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. Puig went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and two runs scored and is riding a five-game hitting streak. Puig is batting .436 with seven homers and 16 RBI in 26 games and recorded four hits in a game for the first time. He has 14 multi-hit games so far.
"I've seen enough of him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's a good player. He's strong and loves to play. He's got a lot of talent. Right now, I look up there and see (101) at-bats ad 44 hits. That's a pretty good start for a rookie."
Puig finished his first calendar month in the bigs with 44 hits, the second most in MLB history behind the 48 Joe DiMaggio recorded in May, 1936.
A.J. Ellis went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored and Matt Kemp provided two hits and scored twice for Los Angeles. Hanley Ramirez went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and is batting .477 during a 12-game hitting streak.
"Hanley is in the zone," Kemp said. "He's hitting a lot of balls hard. He's driving the ball to right-center. That's the old Hanley I remember back when he was putting up big numbers."
Stephen Fife got the win by holding the Phillies scoreless with seven innings of four-hit ball and five strikeouts.
Clayton Kershaw will try to follow Fife's lead when he gets the call Tuesday in Colorado. Kershaw was on point in his last start, a 4-2 win over San Francisco last Wednesday. Kershaw struck out seven and gave up only two runs in eight innings to improve to 6-5 in 17 starts with a 2.08 ERA.
Kershaw ended a six-start winless drought (0-3) and has struck out at least five batters in each of his last nine appearances. The left-hander is just 1-2 in seven road starts and 7-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 19 career starts against the Rockies.
Colorado is only 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks for the NL West lead, but has dropped nine of its last 13 games.
The Rockies failed in their attempt of a three-game sweep of the Giants with Sunday's 5-2 loss, as Drew Pomeranz yielded four runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss in his season debut. He was 8-1 in 15 starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
"My command wasn't what it has been," Pomeranz said. "I haven't been pitching like that. I'm obviously very disappointed, not making it deep into the game like I would like to."
Carlos Gonzalez homered and Michael Cuddyer extended his career-long hitting streak to 27 games with a 1-for-4 performance. Cuddyer also has reached base safely in 46 straight games. Kevin Millar reached base safely in 52 games in a row back in 2007 with the Baltimore Orioles.
Cuddyer is batting .372 with six homers, 19 RBI and 17 runs during the hitting streak, which is the longest in franchise history.
"It's been fun watching him do this," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's nice to see him get some recognition. He's a great player."
Roy Oswalt draws the start for the Rockies Tuesday and he has lost both of his outings so far. Oswalt made his debut June 20 in a 5-1 loss at Washington, allowing four runs and nine hits in five innings, then was tagged for five runs and nine hits over six innings of last Wednesday's 5-3 setback at Boston.
The veteran right-hander will make his first appearance at Coors Field and has faced the Dodgers 13 times (12 starts) in his career, going 8-4 with a 3.08 earned run average over 79 innings.
Colorado has won four of six meetings with Los Angeles this season.