DENVER — Starter Jon Gray pretended he was closing out the first inning.
Anything to avoid a pattern of early game hiccups.
That particular approach served him well, too, with Gray pitching six scoreless innings to help the Colorado Rockies beat the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers 8-1 on a gusty Monday night.
Gray (9-6) surrendered four hits and struck out eight in a crisp performance for his first win since Aug. 2.
“I feel like sometimes you can out-aggressive people. I like to do that,” Gray said. “Bring a little intensity and cruise from there.”
Gray started strong, which hasn’t always been the case this season. Of the 72 runs he has allowed, 34 have been scored in the opening two innings.
In this game, not even a third-inning downpour could interrupt his concentration.
Gray ran into trouble in the fifth with two on and one out. Adrian Gonzalez sent a sinking liner to center that Charlie Blackmon hauled in as he slid on the slick grass. Gray pointed his glove toward the centerfielder in appreciation.
“That was awesome,” Gray said. “That really helped me out a lot.”
DJ LeMahieu had a two-run double in a five-run seventh that turned a pitching duel into a rout.
Kenta Maeda (13-8) was electric once again at Coors Field — except for a hanging slider that Nick Hundley hit for a two-run homer in the fourth. The right-hander with the quirky delivery allowed four hits over five innings. Maeda has a 2.12 ERA in three starts at the hitter friendly park.
“Overall, I thought I pitched pretty well,” Maeda said through a translator. “It was that one pitch which was a slider inside that was definitely a mistake pitch.”
The Dodgers had a momentary scare when All-Star rookie shortstop Corey Seager was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Chris Rusin in the seventh. He appeared to be in quite a bit of pain as he made his way to first base, but remained in the game. Seager was hit earlier in the game. The team said X-rays were negative.
Seager won’t play Tuesday, but that was already planned.
“It always hurts when you get hit,” said Seager, whose team finished with five hits. “You’re glad it’s not broken and you move on.”
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (mild disk irritation) will face hitters in a simulated game on Tuesday in Los Angeles. A minor-league start may be the next step in his rehabilitation. “We have a couple different scenarios. So, depending on how he comes out of it, we’ll make a decision,” manager Dave Roberts explained.
Rockies: INF Mark Reynolds (broken bone in left hand) could return before the end of the season. “There’s a lot still out in front of him that he has to be able to do before he gets into a game,” manager Walt Weiss said.
Roberts has a new player on his team — Julio Jones, the game-changing receiver of the Atlanta Falcons. Jones may not help the Dodgers win the NL West, but could lift Roberts and his team to a fantasy football title.
The Dodgers held their league draft in Denver on Sunday. Roberts is the silent partner on a squad co-owned by Justin Turner and Brandon McCarthy. They took Jones with the No. 2 overall pick.
THIS & THAT
Last week, Maeda was optioned to the Arizona League Dodgers to free up roster space. He was recalled Monday and the team optioned right-handed pitcher Brock Stewart to Double-A Tulsa. … Weiss said there won’t be any conversations about a new contract until after the season. The fourth-year manager is in the final year of his deal. … Pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson broke up the shutout in the ninth with an RBI groundout that brought in Andrew Toles, who tripled.
The crowd gave Colorado pinch-hitter Stephen Cardullo a standing ovation after his first major league hit in the eighth. Cardullo, who turns 29 on Wednesday, was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque last week. He plans to give the ball to his dad.
“Just a great feeling,” Cardullo said.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (10-3) makes his first start at Coors Field since April 23, 2008, while with the Chicago Cubs.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (4-5) is 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA at Coors Field this season.