A journeyman outfielder known primarily as a member of a decorated basketball family struck the key blow.
And an injury-ravaged bullpen wobbled its way through the ninth inning in a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night that marked the Dodgers’ 50th win two games ahead of the season’s halfway point, keeping them on pace for a 100-win season.
On our holiday that celebrates the land of the free, the Dodgers let Freeland reign into the fifth inning. Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland retired the first 13 batters in order before the Dodgers changed the course of the game.
Trayce Thompson, brother of NBA star Klay Thompson and son of former Lakers forward Mychal Thompson, followed Justin Turner’s single and Chris Taylor’s walk with a three-run home run to left field that put the Dodgers ahead 3-1.
Cody Bellinger promptly stroked a ground-rule double, and with two out Mookie Betts scored him with a single. The Dodgers added a fifth run in the seventh inning on Trea Turner’s RBI double.
Thompson played with the Dodgers in 2016 and 2017, last hitting a home run at Dodger Stadium six years ago nearly to the day, on July 3, 2016, against the Rockies. He blew a kiss to his mother in the stands after touching home plate Monday.
“I’m blessed to be back here,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted.”
The fifth-inning rally made a winner of Julio Urías (7-6), who went six innings for the 10th time this season. He has pitched five or six innings in 15 consecutive starts since lasting only two innings in his first start April 10.
The Rockies’ game plan appeared to be getting deep into counts to ratchet up Urías’ pitch count. Once he was lifted, they reasoned, hitters could feast on the Dodgers’ depleted bullpen. But Urías, who was 20-3 last season, didn’t waver despite throwing a season-high 99 pitches, surrendering only a solo home run by José Iglesias while lowering his ERA to 2.57.
“I think what Julio has done pretty much exactly what he did last season,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The winning percentage isn’t as good but that’s team driven. The way he’s throwing the baseball, he is worthy of an All-Star selection.”
Join the crowd. On Friday, Tony Gonsolin improved to 10-0 and lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.54 by holding the Padres to one run over 7 2/3 innings. On Saturday, Tyler anderson improved to 9-1 by holding the San Diego Padres to one run over six innings
Roberts has been a cheerleader for all four starters. Monday it was Urías’ turn.
“This guy has never been an All-Star, he’s one of the elite pitchers in the National League, so I think that alone [qualifies him], not to mention having an opportunity to pitch in front of the home fans at Dodger Stadium,” he said.
Phil Bickford retired the side in order in the seventh and Brusdar Graterol did the same in the eighth, but Reyes Moronta was tagged with C.J. Cron’s 20th home run to lead off the ninth and was lifted with two out and runners on first and second.
Pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon poked an opposite-field RBI single off Yency Almonte to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 5-3, but Almonte — who pitched the last four seasons with the Rockies — struck out connor Joe to notch his first save of the season and second of his career.
Chris Taylor aggravates foot injury
Taylor left the game in the sixth inning because of swelling in his left ankle and foot. He will have a CT scan Tuesday.
“It hurt every time I ran on it,” he said, adding that the injury has been nagging him since he fouled a ball off his foot Saturday.
Taylor is so valued for his versatility that the Dodgers gave him a four-year, $53 million contract last offseason. But he’ll play only the outfield the rest of the season. Taylor had surgery on his right elbow during the offseason and the Dodgers are still mindful of his recovery.
“I just don’t feel we can risk the downside, the changing arm angles of throwing from the infield,” he said. “We are in a good spot with him.”
Craig Kimbrel’s back isn’t broken
A day after getting drilled in the back by a line drive, Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel was sore but relieved.
“Nothing is broken,” he said. “It could have been worse.”
Roberts said that although he was encouraged that Kimbrel wasn’t seriously hurt, he’d give the closer at least two days off before he pitches again.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.