Rockies drop series opener to Dodgers

Rockies drop series opener to Dodgers

Rockies drop series opener to Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies were mere bystanders on Friday night as the Dodgers undertook the desperate exercise of winning with one eye on the scoreboard.

The Rockies were done after starter Jeff Francis gave up four second-inning runs -- three on Shane Victorino's 11th homer -- as the Dodgers won, 8-0, at Dodger Stadium in front of 37,133.

Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw (13-9) held the Rockies to five hits and struck out 10 over eight shutout innings. But the excitement was tempered by the Cardinals' 12-2 victory over the Nationals. Now any combination of three Cards wins or Dodgers losses will eliminate the Dodgers from the chase for a National League Wild Card spot.

"Too much Clayton Kershaw tonight," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Give credit where credit's due. The guy was terrific tonight, and actually as good a curveball as I've seen him have in any start that he's taken."

Instead of helping grease the Dodgers' path to also-ran status, the Rockies (62-95) tied the club record for losses in a season (1993 and '05) with five games left in the campaign. After Wilin Rosario opened the second with a double -- only to see Kershaw strike out three of the next four hitters -- the Rockies barely threatened.

It was the third time this season and 18th time in his career that Kershaw has finished in double figures in strikeouts.

"That was the first time most of us saw him in here," said Jordan Pacheco, one of six rookies in the lineup. "Once he gets ahead of you, he's got a great fastball. He was using his cutter or slider or whatever it was. I didn't know what it was half the time. I was just up there swinging."

Kershaw gave the Rockies little or no hope of a comeback. A depleted roster didn't help. Even though rosters can expand to 40, the Rockies didn't make massive callups. With Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler nursing injuries and several players not even active, Tracy was left sending up reliever Guillermo Moscoso, instead of a pinch-hitter, with two out in the seventh.

Francis (5-7), who joined the team in June and generally was competitive, gave up five runs on six hits and struck out three in four innings. Francis began the year in Triple-A with the Reds but made 23 starts with the Rockies and posted a 5.75 ERA.

"I feel like I'm better than the way I performed, so I'm somewhat disappointed," said Francis, a free agent the Rockies figure to invite back in 2013. "I'm stepping on the mound, ready to pitch, but sometimes it didn't go my way."

The Dodgers added three runs in the eighth, highlighted by a pinch-hit, two-run homer by Bobby Abreu off Will Harris.

Kershaw celebrated the run support.

"Getting runs is awesome," he said. "We swung the bats really well tonight. We are getting big hits. Two outs, guys in scoring position, getting some runs, getting some hits, that is a great sign. We had a lot of hard hit balls caught tonight, too.

"We could've had more than eight tonight pretty easily."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.