Dodgers rally from five runs down, stun Rockies on A.J. Ellis single in the 11th, 7-6
And then, a moment from those glorious days of yesteryear. When George Sherrill was clutch, Matt Kemp electric and the Dodgers typically rallied for dramatic victories.
The Dodgers got it all Sunday in the biggest comeback of their disappointing season, rallying from an early five-run deficit to stun the Rockies, 7-6, on A.J. Ellis’ game-winning single over a drawn-in infield in the 11th inning.
The Rockies had threatened to take the lead in the top of the inning when Jonathan Broxton faltered and loaded the bases with two outs.
But Manager Joe Torre called on Sherrill -- last season’s left-handed stopper who has struggled this season -- and he responded by striking out Carlos Gonzalez, the league’s leading hitter.
Despite the victory, the Dodgers’ magic number to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs fell to two with the Giants’ victory Sunday. The National League West is off Monday, meaning if the Dodgers lose and the Giants win Tuesday, the Dodgers will be eliminated.
The Rockies were down to their ninth pitcher of the day, Manny Delcarmen, in the 11th.
Reed Johnson opened the Dodgers’ half of the inning with a single. Rafael Furcal then bounced to second to force Johnson, but was ruled safe on the throw to first by Troy Tulowitzki. Replays indicated Furcal was out.
Kemp, who had already homered and doubled in the game-tying run in the ninth, then singled Furcal to third. The Rockies intentionally walked Andre Ethier to load the bases and bring up Ellis.
Ellis lined his hit just over Tulowitzki at short for the walk-off hit.
The last time the Dodgers overcame a five-run deficit was June 2, 2009, when they rallied to beat the Diamondbacks, 6-5.
The Dodgers might not have needed the dramatics if not for the unexpected struggles Sunday of Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw was coming off his first career shutout, was 3-0 with a 1.04 earned-run average against the Rockies this season and had thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings against Colorado at Dodger Stadium.
Two innings into Sunday’s game, however, and he was down 6-1. And Tulowitzki hadn’t even hit a home run.
Kershaw suffered from a bout of wildness and some less than sterling defense.
Kershaw walked his first two hitters, and after they advanced on a fly out, intentionally walked Tulowitzki -- who’d already hit 14 home runs this month -- to load the bases.
Kershaw struck out Melvin Mora, but when Jason Giambi sent a deep drive to left, Jay Gibbons retreated and made an awkward jump at the wall. The ball hit the padding atop the wall and landed on the warning track for a three-run double.
Ethier hit a solo home run off Jason Hammel in the bottom of the inning, but the Rockies added three more in the second when Gibbons seemed to continue his audition as a designated hitter.
Catcher Paul Phillips led off with a pretty routine fly to left that went in … and out of Gibbons’ glove for an error.
One out later, Dexter Fowler bounced a single into left. A rattled-looking Gibbons booted that too, although, he recovered the dropped ball before the runners could advance another base.
A Jonathan Herrera double scored one, a Gonzalez single a second, and when Furcal dropped the ball trying to turn a double play on a Tulowitzki grounder, one more runner scored.
By the end of the second, the Rockies were up 6-1 and Kershaw had already thrown 63 pitches.
The Dodgers kept chipping away at the Colorado lead, but were left one blow short.
They scored three runs in the fourth. Singles by Rod Barajas and pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll each scored one, and then Furcal doubled in one more.
Kemp hit his solo home run in the seventh to pull L.A. to within one. Kemp and Ethier lead the Dodgers with 23 home runs apiece.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis escapes the celebration after delivering a game-winning hit in the bottom of the 11th inning against Colorado on Sunday. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press