LOS ANGELES — A quick hook spared Tyler Chatwood the indignity of a dubious personal record Saturday at Dodger Stadium. But the silent exchange between the pitcher and his manager howled of irritation.
The Rockies’ 27-year-old veteran right-hander — the intended rock of a rotation aging in reverse with four rookies — walked eight batters. In barely more than three innings. And when Bud Black walked to the mound to snatch away the baseball and the game, no words were spoken, no eye contact made.
The first-place and still surging Dodgers were well on their way to a 4-0 victory when Clayton Kershaw rubbed out a bases loaded pickle in the first inning. He is 93-0 in a distinguished career when his team scores four or more runs. The Dodgers did not need help.
Chatwood gave it to them. He walked four batters, three in a row, in a three-run third inning alone — the kicker being a four-pitch walk to Kershaw with the bases loaded. He walked two batters back-to-back in the second and Logan Forsythe, the first, scored.
If there is one thing Black, a former pitcher over 15 seasons, cannot cotton to, it is walks. He yanked Chatwood with one out in the third, but it did not turn them around. The Rockies lost a fourth consecutive game for the first time this season. Chatwood tied a career walks high. He also did it July 24 last season against Atlanta.
Less than a week ago, Colorado (47-30) held first place in the National League West. The Dodgers (50-26), winners of nine in a row, wrested the top spot and are now 3 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Rockies.
The rash of walks halted Chatwood’s recent run. He had allowed two or fewer runs in six of his previous seven starts and his 1.73 ERA in June was the third-best in baseball among starters. But he fell to 6-8 with 4.32 ERA overall.
Joc Pederson did him in twice, first with a solo homer on the first pitch of the Dodgers’ third inning, a looping shot to center field, then with a lead-off walk in the fourth, the last issued by Chatwood. The Dodgers offense seems unstoppable of late — they have homers in 16 straight games, the club’s longest streak since 1956.
And the Rockies started the game with such promise. DJ LeMahieu lined a double to left field off Kershaw and Nolan Arenado rocked a single to shortstop that Enrique Hernandez could not corral. After Mark Reynolds walked to load the bases, in a nine-pitch battle for strike zone, Colorado had two more outs to kick Kershaw in the shins. But he quickly struck out Ian Desmond swinging and Trevor Story looking.
Kershaw’s next inning needed only 13 pitches. He struck out eight and, deftly, walked just one in six shutout innings.
The Rockies on Sunday hope to get a kick from of the return of lefty Tyler Anderson, whose hitchy windup nearly mirrors Kershaw’s. They will settle for some strikes in trying to avoid a Dodgers sweep.