NL batting leader Morneau powers up in defeat

Average at .319 after 2-for-3 night; Lyles loses steam in sixth

NL batting leader Morneau powers up in defeat

LOS ANGELES -- Not that the Rockies wanted it, but they witnessed Friday night how a playoff team finds ways to ignite when a game seemingly is going the wrong way.

National League batting leader Justin Morneau's two-run homer helped the Rockies to a lead after three innings and righty Jordan Lyles seemingly had the game under control. But the NL West champion Dodgers scored six sixth-inning runs and won, 7-4, at Dodger Stadium.

"They have a really good lineup -- that's why they won their division," Lyles said. "They've got a good pitching staff to go along with it. You've got to bear down on all eight guys in the lineup."

For what it's worth, the D-backs clinched last place in the NL West with their 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Cardinals on Friday night. The Rockies finished the last two seasons in the cellar.

Even in such a year, the Rockies have a player at the top of a significant individual list.

Morneau went 2-for-3 with his 17th homer of the season -- a shot to the opposite gap in left-center to drive in two of three third-inning runs against Dodgers starter Roberto Hernandez. Morneau lifted his batting average to .319. He is being trailed by two Pirates -- Josh Harrison at .318 and Andrew McCutchen at .314.

"It's very cool to see the season 'Morney' has put together, especially after all the stuff that he's been through," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, referring to a period of injury that started with a debilitating concussion Morneau suffered in 2010 with the Twins. "He's one of those guys you pull extra-hard for, and he's doing it down to the last out of the season."

Lyles (7-4) recorded all four of his strikeouts in the first five innings and entered the sixth with a 3-1 lead. But four of the first five batters singled, with Scott Van Slyke driving in a run and Justin Turner knocking in two. A key hit was Dee Gordon's bunt single -- his third hit -- to put runners at first and second. In the third, Gordon ended up with a double on a smash off Lyles' left foot that barely cleared the infield.

"This is the second or third time he's had an infield double off me," Lyles said.

Rockies lefty Franklin Morales entered but didn't retire a batter; instead he walked two and gave up two hits, including Juan Uribe's two-run single. Darwin Barney, who began the sixth with a single off Lyles, ended the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly against Rob Scahill.

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is considered a prime candidate for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award that would be the first of his career, left the game in the sixth with a left knee sprain -- suffered while fielding Turner's single in short center field. He is listed as day to day with two games left in the season.

Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins entered in the bottom of the eighth to record his 999th career appearance. He is 16th on the all-time pitching list.

Ben Paulsen, who took over for Morneau at first base in the bottom of the seventh, capped the scoring with a solo shot in the ninth.

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