DENVER — Kuhl me once, shame on you. Kuhl me twice, shame on me.
When the Dodgers faced the Colorado Rockies in late June, the Dodgers were coming off an emotional weekend in Atlanta that culminated with a 4½-hour, extra-inning game on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
The Dodgers didn’t arrive at their Denver hotel until 3 a.m. and looked every bit the weary travelers they were while going down listlessly against right-hander Chad Kuhl who spun a three-hit shutout to beat them.
They were wide awake this time and scored five times in the first three innings against Kuhl, holding on for a 5-4 victory on Friday night.
Over their past three games, the Dodgers have abused opposing starting pitchers – Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Jose Ureña of the Rockies on Thursday and Kuhl on Friday. Those three were charged with 21 runs on 21 hits while recording a total of 22 outs.
Kuhl was actually the most effective of the three. But he gave up a two-run home run to Will Smith in the first inning and another to Trayce Thompson in the second (after Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant dropped Cody Bellinger’s fly ball).
The Dodgers scored again in the third inning on three walks and an error (the Rockies’ fourth in the first two games of this series) and Kuhl was gone in the fourth after loading the bases on a Mookie Betts triple, a walk and a hit batter.
Life has not been good for Kuhl since his big night against the Dodgers.
In five starts since then, Kuhl has given up 22 runs on 31 hits (including six home runs) and 14 walks in just 20⅔ innings. The Dodgers batted .103 (3 for 29) against him that June night. Since then, hitters are raking at a .348 clip against him.
Julio Urias has had his share of hard times at Coors Field. Coming into Friday’s start, the Dodgers left-hander had a 5.81 ERA in Denver, his highest at any stadium where he has pitched more than twice.
There was none of that Friday night. Urias stumbled once in the second inning when he gave up a double to Jose Iglesias, a triple off the center-field wall to Randal Grichuk and a sacrifice fly. He allowed just two more hits in his seven innings, rolling through the Rockies on 89 pitches (no more than 15 in any inning).
Not good enough for the National League All-Star team, Urias now has a 2.54 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and .177 batting average against in 10 starts since the beginning of June. The Dodgers have won eight of those 10.
Evan Phillips retired the side in the eighth and handed a three-run lead to Craig Kimbrel in the ninth when the Dodgers’ failure to add to their early scoring began to look problematic. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs against the Dodgers closer.
Randal Grichuk drove in two runs with a single through the left side to make it a one-run game. Thompson made an outstanding running catch down the left-field line to end the game and allow Kimbrel to record one of the more precarious of his 390 career saves. Nonetheless, that tied him with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for seventh all-time.
More to come on this story.