A Dodger Stadium crowd of 50,705, dormant for much of the evening, roared to life Saturday night when center fielder Enrique Hernandez fired a 94-mph one-hop throw to the plate to nail Raimel Tapia to end the top of the eighth inning.
The energy that has helped fuel the team’s best home record since it moved to Los Angeles in 1958 coursed through Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers riding the wave of emotion into the bottom of the eighth when Hernandez singled with one out.
Then, as quickly as the conflagration flared, it fizzled out. Colorado reliever Carlos Estevez got A.J. Pollock to fly to center field and Cody Bellinger to pop out to the catcher to end the eighth, and Jairo Diaz retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the ninth.
The Rockies held on for a 4-2 victory that snapped their 12-game losing streak in Dodger Stadium dating to July 1, 2018, and put a dent in the Dodgers’ hopes of holding home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Dodgers (99-56) have a 31/2-game edge over Atlanta with seven games left for home field in a possible National League Championship Series matchup, but they trail the Houston Astros (101-54) by two games and the New York Yankees (101-55) by 11/2 games in potential World Series matchups.
“We can’t fake the fact that we have clinched the division and these games probably aren’t as important,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “But you still play to win. Everyone in here wants to win every time we go out there.”
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler was effective but not dominant, giving up four runs and five hits, including two solo homers, in six innings, striking out five and walking three to fall to 13-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 29 starts.
“Tonight with Walker, he was just missing a little bit,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It seemed like it was a grind trying to get ahead of guys, put guys away.”
The Rockies combined the long ball with some little ball to take an early 3-0 lead. Ryan McMahon hit a solo homer in the second. Colorado used a walk, two stolen bases and RBI singles by Tapia and Charlie Blackmon to score twice in the third.
The Dodgers trimmed the deficit with two runs in the fourth, a rally sparked by the hustle of Bellinger, whose sprint to first on a comebacker that nicked off right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez forced a high throw from the pitcher that pulled first baseman Josh Fuentes off the bag for an error.
Chris Taylor struck out, but Corey Seager drove a two-out RBI triple into the gap in left-center and Martin flared an RBI single to right to make it 3-2.
Buehler retired 10 of 11 batters from the third through sixth inning, three by strikeout, but he opened the seventh by hanging a first-pitch slider to Fuentes, who belted a homer to left for a 4-2 lead.
Third baseman Justin Turner, sidelined for almost two weeks because of a sprained left ankle, made his first start since Sept. 7, lining into a double play in the first inning and flying out to center field in the third.
Turner, who appeared as a pinch-hitter Friday night, was pulled after three innings to start what amounts to a major league rehabilitation assignment in which he will be eased back into action leading into the post-season.