LOS ANGELES | Julio Urías has shaken off an unimpressive start to his season and returned to the peak of his prodigious abilities.
So have his Los Angeles Dodgers, who are close to running away with another NL West title after yet another dominant week.
Urías matched his career high with 12 strikeouts over seven innings of four-hit ball, and Miguel Rojas homered and drove in four runs in the Dodgers’ season-high eighth consecutive victory, 8-3 over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Mookie Betts broke it open with a two-run double in the sixth for the Dodgers, who have won 12 of 13 to surge 8 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco in the race for their 10th division title in 11 seasons.
“We’re a very complete team,” veteran infielder Kiké Hernández said. “We can beat you on offense, on defense, with pitching, one through nine in the lineup. We even do the little things, which not every good team does. We’re playing great baseball right now, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Urías (10-6) struck out seven consecutive Rockies and eight of nine during his final three innings of work, blowing through Colorado’s lineup in an example of his recent improvements. After posting a 5.02 ERA in his first 14 starts this season amid injury setbacks, the left-hander has allowed just six runs over 24 innings with 27 strikeouts in his last four starts.
“I’m starting to focus more on getting hitters out than just my mechanics,” Urías said through a translator. “I’m attacking the zone, and I think I’m doing well.”
While recording his third consecutive victory and fifth in his last seven starts, Urías produced Los Angeles’ first start of the season with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. Los Angeles allowed just six total runs and 18 hits during its first four-game series sweep of the Rockies since September 2016.
“You could just see (Urías) was determined,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was going to go at least six innings today. He got to seven, and he could have gone out there for the eighth. He was efficient and on the attack. We needed that.”
Alan Trejo hit a two-run homer for the Rockies, who have lost five straight. Urías was visibly frustrated after giving up Trejo’s second homer of the season on a high changeup in the fourth inning, but he rebounded by striking out the side in the fifth and sixth.
“(Urías) threw a lot of curveballs today, which I think against us historically hasn’t really come into play, so it’s always a game of adjustments,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.
“He’s to the point now in his career where he’s doing a lot of pitching, changing speeds and throwing a lot of different pitches in different counts. We couldn’t solve him overall.”
Pinch-hitter Cole Tucker had an RBI single for Colorado in the third after replacing Jurickson Profar, who ran into the left field wall while making an impressive catch on Betts’ long line drive to end the second. Profar twisted his left knee, the Rockies said.
Kyle Freeland (4-13) yielded six hits and four runs over five innings. The Denver native is winless in 14 consecutive starts since May 14.
The Dodgers’ unlikely offensive engine was Rojas, who matched his season high in RBIs by driving in one run in each of his four plate appearances.
Rojas got his third RBI on a flyout in the sixth before Betts’ double broke it open. Rojas added another sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Freddie Freeman went 0 for 4 and had back-to-back hitless games for the first time in four weeks since July 15-16.
Rockies: Profar was down on the warning track for at least two minutes before he was helped to the Rockies’ nearby bullpen. He needed help to make it off the field on his injured knee. He will be reevaluated later, the team said.
Dodgers: RHP Joe Kelly went on the injured list with right forearm inflammation. The reliever is 1-0 in four appearances with no runs allowed and seven strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings since his return to Los Angeles last month. The move is retroactive to Aug. 10. … Slugger J.D. Martinez (groin) wasn’t in the starting lineup, but was available to pinch-hit. Roberts expects Martinez to play Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 6.
Rockies: Chris Flexen (1-5, 7.92 ERA) takes the mound in Denver on Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks to open a six-game homestand.
Dodgers: After a day off, the homestand continues when Bobby Miller (6-2, 3.89) takes the mound Tuesday night against NL Central-leading Milwaukee.