Dodgers waste gem by Maddux

Dodgers waste gem by Maddux

DENVER -- Greg Maddux and Aaron Cook performed a trick Sunday that would have freaked out even Criss Angel.

They turned Coors Field into a pitcher's park.

Ultimately, the Rockies pushed across a run in the 10th for the first 1-0 extra-inning win in stadium history, stringing four singles off Dodgers left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who was making his first appearance after needing a week off to rest a weary left triceps muscle.

Kuo insisted that his arm felt fine and the Dodgers breathed a sigh of relief, even though they had a four-game win streak snapped and missed out on a series sweep.

While nothing but a win is acceptable in the waning weeks of a pennant race, the Dodgers' magic number to clinch the National League West was trimmed to 10 with the D-backs' loss. The Dodgers also experienced something very special. They got to see Maddux turn back the clock with the kind of masterpiece performance no 42-year-old has a right to deliver.

"I watched him in his prime and I've always wanted to catch him like that," said Danny Ardoin, who caught to give Russell Martin a breather. "Today, I got a glimpse of what it was like, and I enjoyed it. He was lights-out. His command was as good as it can be."

Maddux pitched seven scoreless innings and needed only 68 pitches to get there. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in an eighth-inning rally that stalled.

"The guy was remarkable," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He didn't throw any pitches."

Maddux allowed two singles -- Garrett Atkins' clean shot to left breaking up the perfect game with one out in the fifth, Clint Barmes' other hit glancing off Maddux's glove. He struck out three without a walk.

"It's frustrating to get a performance by Maddux like that and not scratch one across for him and for the team," said Juan Pierre, who started in place of Andre Ethier, absent for a second day while attending to the birth of his child.

The Dodgers were unable to scratch out anything because the Rockies started Cook, who went eight innings without allowing a run to score, not even in the second inning, when the Dodgers had three singles. Cook is 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA against the Dodgers this year.

"We've seen that before with Cook," Torre said. "We didn't threaten but one time."

Without Martin and Ethier, Torre lost third baseman Casey Blake in the sixth inning with what was described as minor lower back stiffness. He's day to day.

Meanwhile, Maddux downplayed his effectiveness at Coors Field, where his eight wins are high for any opponent.

"I've gotten a lot of runs here in my career," he said, having pitched in the pre-humidor days. "I've spit out some hooks here, too. Got my butt kicked. It actually isn't that bad a place to pitch, if you keep the ball out of the air. The mound's good, the background's good. When it goes in the air to right-center, it never comes out of the sky."

He said he did nothing different this time, after allowing eight runs in 4 2/3 innings his previous start for the Padres, after which he put a bat through the clubhouse door.

"I don't change things here," he said. "I only know one way to pitch. If it's Wrigley with the wind blowing out or the wind blowing in."

In contrast to the delicate finesse of Maddux, there's the hard-throwing and hard-luck Kuo, who sent up all kinds of red flags this week when he needed a cortisone shot in his left elbow. He explained, however, that the discomfort was in the triceps muscle, nowhere near the ligament he's had replaced twice.

Nonetheless, when his fastballs were clocked at 91 mph to the first batter he faced in the 10th, Matt Holliday, Torre came out to the mound with assistant trainer Todd Tomczak.

"He didn't look like he was letting it go," Torre said. "I went out and made him promise me that he didn't feel anything. He threw the ball good after I came back. It looked like he was letting it go after that."

Kuo struck out Brad Hawpe, then Atkins singled into left field and pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs loaded the bases with a Coors Field pop single that dropped in right-center between Pierre and Matt Kemp. Tulowitzki lined a single over the head of first baseman James Loney to snap Colorado's seven-game losing streak, leaving the Dodgers 5-10 in extra-inning games.

"I don't think he did anything wrong," Torre said of Kuo. "With Holliday, he didn't throw. But they didn't do any major damage. He located pretty well, getting ahead of the hitters."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.