DENVER – Rich Hill broke his own personal rule: He peeked at the standings before mid-September.
Curiosity simply got the better of him. It was appropriate, too, since this game had a playoff feel.
Justin Turner hit a two-run homer as part of a four-hit day and the Los Angeles Dodgers climbed closer to the first-place Colorado Rockies in the NL West with a 9-6 win Sunday.
The Dodgers captured two of three from the Rockies in a pivotal series and moved within a half-game for the division lead. Colorado has never won the NL West crown.
“This was the biggest game of the year so far for us,” said Enrique Hernandez, who hit his 20th homer of the season. “If we do make the playoffs, we’re getting good preparation. Every game is a must-win. Every game is huge.”
That’s why Hill typically doesn’t look until at least Sept. 15. It couldn’t be helped, though, with everyone around him talking about it.
“We just have to be concerned with what we need to do,” he said.
Hill (8-5) allowed four runs over five innings to pick up his first career win against the Rockies. He gave up a homer to Charlie Blackmon on his fifth pitch of the game, but then found his rhythm.
Kenta Maeda gave up a single to start the ninth before turning it over to Scott Alexander. The lefty got the Rockies 1-2-3 for his third save.
Alexander was filling in for All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, who didn’t make the trip to the Mile High City after a team cardiologist recommended he not pitch at altitude after suffering an irregular heartbeat episode in Denver last month.
The bullpen was 2 for 2 in saves chances without Jansen.
“They answered the bell,” Turner said.
As did Turner, who went 4 for 5 with an intentional walk as he kept wearing out Rockies pitching. He had a single in the first, double in the fourth, a two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Dodgers an 8-2 lead, and another double in the eighth. He’s hitting .385 at Coors Field this season.
“I felt good. I felt really good,” Turner said. “I felt like I swung at good pitches and got good results.”
His only mishap was a misstep rounding first base in the opening inning. He bruised his left heel.
“I’ll be all right,” he said.
Blackmon finished with two solo homers, including one in the eighth that made it 8-6, and Nolan Arenado broke out of a slump with a two-run shot in the sixth. It was Arenado’s first homer since Aug. 24.
“Obviously it stinks that we couldn’t win, but it felt good that I was able to hit a ball hard there,” Arenado said.
Lefty Tyler Anderson (6-8) lasted only 2 2/3 innings in allowing four runs, three earned. He’s 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA since his last win on July 4.
“It centers around the fastball and you have to locate it,” Rockies manager Bud Black explained. “Today, Tyler didn’t.”
A few Rockies miscues led to some early Dodgers runs: Catcher Chris Iannetta dropped the ball while trying to tag Manny Machado at home in the first and left fielder Matt Holliday fumbled a Turner liner for an error in the second.
Colorado also turned in several big plays, including a diving stop by Arenado and throw to first from his knee in the third.
“We can’t let this game affect us,” Arenado said. “Losing’s never fun but when you have big games coming up, which we put ourselves in that position, it’s easier to move on.”
Rockies RHP DJ Johnson made his major league debut in the fifth. He struck out two, including Austin Barnes and had the ball tossed into the dugout.
UP NEXTDodgers: LHP Alex Wood (8-6, 3.37 ERA) will get the start to open a three-game series Monday in Cincinnati. The Reds will throw LHP Cody Reed (0-2, 4.81).
Rockies: A four-game series against Arizona – another team right on the Rockies’ heels. RHP German Marquez (11-9, 4.05) will start Monday for Colorado, while the Diamondbacks will throw RHP Zack Godley (14-8, 4.51).