Valaika's 2 homers help Rox deny Dodgers

Valaika's 2 homers help Rox deny Dodgers

DENVER -- The Rockies rode a pair of home runs from Pat Valaika and a season-long blast from Nolan Arenado to defeat the Dodgers, 9-6, on Sunday at Coors Field. Colorado earned a series split and preserved sole possession of first place in the National League West, now 1 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles.

Rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela got off to a rough start, surrendering a two-run homer to Corey Seager in the top of the first, but a 1-2-5-6 double play got him out of a two-on, one-out jam later in the frame. Senzatela then gave up a solo home run to Yasiel Puig in the second.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Arenado, Seager and other #ASGWorthy players

"Today was one of those days where we had a lot of opportunities and didn't capitalize," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Against a good club like that, you keep them in the ballgame and they're going to crawl back. We had opportunities to put them away early. We created traffic and baserunners and we were having good at-bats. But they made pitches when they needed to."

Puig's solo shot to left

Overall, Senzatela gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings, earning the win while snapping a streak of six consecutive starts of at least six innings pitched. He was pitching on Mother's Day less than a year after his mother, Nidya, died of cancer on Aug. 24, 2016.

"There are too many emotions in my heart right now," Senzatela said after the game. "But I feel good because the team got the win. I didn't do a great job, but I just tried to keep the team in the game."

Senzatela escapes a jam

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Dodgers starter Julio Urias gave up a career-high six runs on seven hits over four-plus innings. Urias hadn't surrendered more than three runs in a start since July 4 of last season (a span of 10 starts).

"He was getting behind and really didn't have anything to go to or command of anything," Roberts said. "Today the velocity was down a little bit, and the command, and the secondaries. Threw some good changeups, and he threw a couple backfoot breaking balls to the right-hander. But overall, he just wasn't sharp."

Arenado's homer came off Dodgers reliever Sergio Romo in the fifth, and traveled 456 feet to left-center, his longest of 2017 and tied for his third-longest in the Statcast™ era (beginning in 2015).

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The Dodgers rallied for two runs in the eighth before Rockies reliever Jake McGee got Yasmani Grandal to ground out to second base with the tying run at third and two outs.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Viva Valaika: With the Rockies trailing, 4-3, in the fourth inning, Valaika launched his third career homer (second this season) with a runner aboard to put Colorado ahead, 5-4. The 416-foot blast to center was the first homer surrendered by Urias in 20 1/3 innings this season, and first since Carlos Gonzalez took him deep on Aug. 3, 2016.

"It was just a curveball that I left there," Urias said. "He hit it well. What else can I say?"

Valaika wasn't done, however. With Colorado clinging to a one-run advantage in the eighth, he belted his second homer of the game over the wall in left field to pad the lead. It was the first multi-homer performance of his career. More >

Valaika's two-run homer

Taylor-made double play: The Dodgers were in business in the first inning, having scored two runs off Senzatela and putting two more runners on with one out for Chris Taylor. Taylor tried a squeeze bunt, but it went right back to the mound. Senzatela went home with the ball and the Rockies had Justin Turner hung up. It turned into a 1-2-5-6 double play after Turner was tagged out and Arenado threw to Valaika covering third to tag out Grandal, who tried to advance while Turner was in the rundown.

Rockies turn two to end the 1st

"That was a safety squeeze," Roberts said. "If he gets a bunt to the right side, it's a run, and it's a potential first and second base to get [Chase Utley] up there. Unfortunately, it went back to the pitcher. We've got to execute in certain situations. You have a chance to pad on, add on, and it ends up being a double play. And in the bottom half, they go out there and score three runs. You give these guys extra outs and don't capitalize situationally, it's going to be tough to win a game."

The Dodgers had another golden scoring opportunity in the third when, with runners at first and second with two outs, Utley smashed a sharp grounder headed for right field. But Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu speared it with a full-extension dive to his left, throwing Utley out to end the threat.

LeMahieu's smooth snag

QUOTABLE
"I think today was an example of -- I don't want to say it was a must-win, because I don't know about must-wins at this time, but it felt like it was. We don't want to lose three out of four to the Dodgers at home. That wouldn't have sat well with us. It was really important for us to win and at least split [the series] like we did." -- Arenado, on the Rockies' 6-4 homestand

"I've been struggling to get into that rhythm and find that feeling where I can stay in that lane consistently. Not knowing exactly what's going on, it is frustrating, but I'm a competitor, and I've always been tried one way or another in every facet of life. At this point, it doesn't seem to be different than the things I've faced before. I just got to stay true to myself, have faith, keep working. I've got good stuff, that's no doubt. It's a matter of just getting it done." -- Romo, on Arenado's homer and his 8.03 ERA with his new team .

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, prior to Sunday at Coors Field, the last time any team completed a 1-2-5-6 double play was on Aug. 3, 1983, and it was also against the Dodgers. The Reds did so on a play from pitcher Tom Hume to catcher Dann Bilardello to third baseman Nick Esasky to shortstop Dave Concepcion. More >

UNDER REVIEW
In the bottom of the eighth, with the Rockies leading 7-6, catcher Grandal made a pickoff throw to first baseman Utley on a 2-1 count with Carlos Gonzalez hitting and Ian Desmond on first with nobody out. Desmond was initially called safe, but Roberts asked for a replay review. After replay, it was determined that Desmond lost contact with the bag while Utley was maintaining the tag. The call on the field was overturned and Desmond was called out. Gonzalez subsequently singled to right and Valaika followed with his second homer of the day, a 386-foot blast to left to make it 9-6 Rockies.

Grandal nabs Desmond at first

WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Brandon McCarthy comes off the 10-day disabled list to start the series in San Francisco on Monday at 7:15 p.m. PT. The right-hander dislocated his left shoulder in the weight room before his last scheduled start. He last pitched April 29, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings against Philadelphia.

Rockies: Colorado hits the road for a season-long 11-day/10-game trip, beginning on Tuesday at Minnesota. Left-hander Kyle Freeland (3-2, 2.93 ERA) is scheduled to take the hill at 6:10 p.m. MT.

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Rockies on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Dodgers on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.