DENVER – Kyle Freeland was a 14-year-old Rockies fan when Colorado made its improbable run to the 2007 World Series.
Eleven years later, he has gone from fanatical follower to a reason the franchise is in the hunt for its first division title.
Freeland pitched six strong innings, Wade Davis worked out of a ninth-inning jam and the Rockies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 on Saturday night to remain atop the NL West.
The Rockies are 6-1 in September, evoking memories of Rocktober 11 years ago when Freeland, born and raised in Denver, was in middle school.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. I think about it quite a bit, something that was very special to me,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t part of the organization, I was part of the city and it holds a special place in my heart, being here and being a part of this team that has a chance to do something special like that again.”
Chris Iannetta and Charlie Blackmon homered for Colorado, and Davis allowed a run before striking out Yasmani Grandal with a man aboard to finish his 39th save.
Colorado moved 1½ games ahead the second-place Dodgers. The Rockies are alone in first place after August for the first time since 1995 and have never won a division title.
Chris Taylor homered for Los Angeles, which made it interesting in the ninth. Max Muncy hit an RBI double with two outs before Davis struck out Grandal looking.
The Dodgers have scored three or fewer runs in seven of their last nine games.
“Offensively, we just can’t get synced up,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think the at-bats are there. It’s just the results aren’t there.”
Freeland (14-7) had something to do with that in his career-high 28th start. He lowered his ERA to 2.91 with another strong outing against a lineup of all right-handed hitters. He allowed one run and four hits and struck out eight for his seventh consecutive quality start and 20th of the season.
With three weeks left in the season, he has a chance to record the best ERA ever by a Rockies starter. Ubaldo Jimenez’s 2.88 ERA in 2010 is the lowest in franchise history.
Freeland has a 2.99 career ERA at Coors Field, the lowest in the park’s history among pitchers with 50 innings.
“I think you saw what we’ve seen from Kyle all year,” manager Bud Black said. “He pitched outstanding.”
Iannetta gave Colorado a 1-0 lead with his 10th homer leading off the second against Walker Buehler (6-5). Ian Desmond drove in David Dahl with a single in the third and Blackmon hit a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 4-1.
Taylor homered off Freeland in the top of the fifth for Los Angeles’ first run.
“He’s got really good stuff and you try to take advantage when he makes a mistake and leaves it out over the plate,” Taylor said.
RESTLESS NIGHT OFFColorado third baseman Nolan Arenado understood why he wasn’t in the starting lineup, but he wasn’t happy with sitting. The All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner is 5 of 39 at the plate in his last 10 games, which has dropped his average below .300. He hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 24 and has gone deep only three times since the end of July.
Despite the prolonged power outage, he wanted to play.
“I don’t make those calls,” he said. “I don’t want it, but there’s no beating around it, I’m not play well. That’s why I’m not playing today.”
Arenado has been battling a sore right shoulder that bothers him when he throws but not his swing. Manager Bud Black said a night off might help.
“Offensively, it just doesn’t feel right,” he said. “His timing’s off, there’s some other things going on.”
EXTRA! EXTRA!With Taylor’s home run, the Dodgers now have seven players with at least 15 homers and 15 doubles in a season for the first time in franchise history.
Los Angeles had six players reach those marks in two previous seasons (1949 and 2017).
GRAND MILESTONERockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu’s single in the first inning was the 1,000th hit of his career. He added another single in the eighth inning.
UP NEXTIt will be a battle of lefties in the finale of the three-game series on Sunday. The Dodgers will send Rich Hill (7-5, 3.73) to the mound and the Rockies will counter with Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.80).