White flummoxes Dodgers as Rox take series

White flummoxes Dodgers as Rox take series

White flummoxes Dodgers as Rox take series
DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Sunday morning a "gut feeling" told him Alex White would have his best career start. More important, White concurred with Tracy.

White held the Dodgers to two hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings of the 3-2 victory at Coors Field in front of 35,353, as the Rockies took two of three from the National League West leaders to complete a 6-1 homestand.

"It was a lot of things coming together, mentally, physically, being able to make a few adjustments to command my fastball like I did," White said. "I really felt like that was coming."

Tracy and White (2-3) based their beliefs on the nastiness of White's fastball and the way he kept the team in games in his last three starts, two of them Rockies victories.

There are no tea leaves that can tell the Rockies that a pitching staff heavy on young starters like White will solidify enough for the fourth-place club to make up the 9 1/2 games between it and the Dodgers. It is a good time to do so, since the Dodgers -- playing without star center fielder Matt Kemp (hamstring) -- have lost six of seven and are on a grueling road trip that will take them to Philadelphia for four games and Seattle for three.

But no one is opening a psychic hotline anytime soon.

The first couple of games of Colorado's homestand, victories over the Astros, actually didn't offer much confidence. Juan Nicasio -- now on the disabled list with a left knee strain -- and White combined to give up 12 runs, 11 earned, in 11 innings of a double-header sweep. That type of pitching results in a loss more often than not.

For a more positive forecast, Tracy hopes the pitchers will establish a pattern that says they can complement a potent offense. The signs are better.

Left-hander Christian Friedrich, who will start Monday night's opener of three in Arizona, has pitched well in four of his five starts since being called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs -- where he and White began the year in the rotation. Jeremy Guthrie is coming off his first home win and will bring a 2-0 road record into his start Tuesday. Lefty Josh Outman pitched well enough as a reliever to earn a rotation shot.

"I think 6-1 is good way to start heading in the direction we want to start heading," Tracy said. "Part of the realization from some of these young guys is we don't expect them to go out and pitch a shutout. They don't have to feel that way walking out there. But keep us in the game."

White found consistency by not bringing his hands above his head during his windup. On Sunday, he forced 13 ground ball outs with two-seam and four-seam fastballs that stayed low in the strike zone, and he didn't give up a hit until Jerry Hairston singled softly with two out in the fourth. The second hit was A.J. Ellis' two-run homer in the seventh, after the fourth of White's five walks. Even then, Tracy left White in for two more batters, a sign of belief in a rookie who appears ready to take forward steps.

It was a major improvement from White's last start against the Dodgers, when he blew a four-run lead in the fifth inning of an 11-5 loss on May 13.

"Last time we faced him, we didn't see that much velocity that he showed today," said Ellis, whose homer was his sixth of the season. "He was attacking, mixed in his offspeed when he needed to, but mainly just a lot of heaters."

Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi (0-2) held the Rockies to three runs, two earned, and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of his second start of the season and eighth of his career.

"I knew their guy was going to be good, and I had to be good right beside him," White said.

Such pitching is plenty good enough alongside the Rockies' offense, which scored seven or more five times and reached double figures three times during the homestand.

Colorado didn't score big Sunday, but it did enough. Dexter Fowler extended his hit streak to eight games with a first-inning single, stole second, took third on an Ellis passed ball and scored on Marco Scutaro's groundout. Eovaldi kept the Rockies off the board again until Todd Helton's RBI single and Jordan Pacheco's RBI double in the sixth.

The Rockies go to Arizona with active hit streaks by Helton (nine games), Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez (eight games), Pacheco (six games, and hits in 17 of his last 18) and Wilin Rosario (six games).

"We've been through our downs; hopefully, we can keep this up," Fowler said.

The Rockies needed a big defensive play by second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who made a spinning, backhand grab of a hard grounder by pinch-hitter Alex Castellanos to end the seventh with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base behind righty reliever Matt Belisle.

"I was positioned well, in the right spot," said LeMahieu, starting regularly at second because Marco Scutaro has moved to short in place of Troy Tulowitzki, who is four days into a 15-day DL stint with a strained left groin.

An appreciative Belisle said, "[Castellanos] squared up a slider pretty good and all I see is No. 9 on a hard backhand -- a great job."

Rafael Betancourt earned his 10th save in a ninth inning that saw warning-track fly balls by Ellis and Tony Gwynn Jr.

The belief from the outside is the Rockies' starting pitching woes will scuttle the season, regardless of how well the offense performs. But White's crystal ball offers a brighter picture.

"Whoever says that can keep saying it; we as a staff trust each other and trust what we have," he said. "It's coming quickly."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.