Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies has out-aced Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second time in 2017.

The best pitcher in baseball, for nearly a decade running, made it through just three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on six hits and walking three while striking out seven. The Rockies offense stayed patient at the right times and were aggressive when they needed to be, driving up Kershaw’s pitch count and putting together one of their best all-around performances of the year. The Rockies have handed Kershaw two of his three losses this season after winning 9-1 on Thursday night.

The Dodgers have lost 12 of their last 13 games and seven in a row. Kershaw’s streak of 12 straight wins was emphatically broken. It was only the second time in the last seven years Kershaw has failed to pitch at least four innings.

Charlie Blackmon set the tone with one of the best at-bats all season for the Rockies, laying off a tough 2-2 slider to run the count full then sending the low fastball right back where it came from for a single up the middle. DJ LeMahieu was similarly patient, working a second straight full count before staying back on the slider and pulling (yes, pulling) a double to left. Third base coach Stu Cole wisely held Blackmon at third both because he likely would have been out at the plate and because on the very next pitch, Nolan Arenado ambushed a Kershaw fastball, blasting his 31st home run of the season and putting the Rockies on top 3-0 before most of the LA crowd had settled into their seats. Mark Reynolds followed with a single but the Rox were held to three in the inning.

It was the first time in Kershaw’s career that he surrendered a hit to the first four batters he faced and the first time since 2010 that he has allowed three runs (or more) before recording an out.

DJ LeMahieu extended his now 15-game hitting streak. He is batting .373 over that span with 11 extra base hits and five multi-hit games.

The Rockies stayed on Kershaw in the second, getting two more base runners but would not score. They got to him again in the third after a leadoff single from Gerardo Parra and a bloop ground-rule double from Trevor Story. Jonathan Lucroy made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Parra.

The Dodgers got their lone run on a pair of doubles, from Cody Bellinger and Yasiel Puig, against Gray in the fourth. Other than that, the Rockies most dynamic starting pitcher showed off some wicked stuff in keeping one of the best lineups in baseball off balance all night. He didn’t exactly rack up the strikeouts and a floating strike zone, some tough foul balls, and a few bouts with command once again inflated his pitch count to less-than-ideal levels. But Gray did what he needed to after being staked to the early lead, making sure not to give in to a talented team.

His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He threw 68 of his 107 pitches for strikes.

Colorado added two more runs in the fifth on three straight singles from Story, Carlos Gonzalez, and Lucroy. CarGo started the seventh with his ninth home run of the season, a deep fly over the center field wall, his first in 44 at-bats. Lucroy, a pinch-hitting Pat Valaika, and Blackmon singled in succession to load the bases and Arenado and Parra drew walks to make it 9-1 before the Dodgers could escape the frame.

Blackmon did not make an out in the game until the ninth, going 2-for-3 with three walks and a run scored. He now stands at 192 hits and 125 runs. Both marks comfortable lead MLB.

With a four-RBI night, Arenado retook sole possession of the MLB lead in that category with 116.

Colorado improved to 75-65 and are back to 10 games above .500. With the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals both losing, the Rockies are now three games up on the second spot in the NL Wild Card. Milwaukee did not play on Thursday.

Game 2 of the series will see German Marquez take on Yu Darvish as the Dodgers continue to look to break out of their funk while the Rockies continue to look to find their footing.

 

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Drew Creasman is the Managing Editor of BSN Rockies and a writer at Pop Culture Spin in addition to working as a solo musician in the Denver/Boulder area. A lifelong Coloradan, Drew has always been plugged into the local sports and entertainment scene and has a healthy obsession with fact-based debate.