While the Dodgers only managed two hits, Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe hit a solo home run in the fourth and starter Jason Marquis added a two-run single in the seventh to lead the Rockies to a 3-0 win Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Marquis led the way for the Rockies, pitching a two-hit shutout on only 86 pitches for his 10th win of the season. The two hits mustered by the Dodgers were a season-low.
"[Marquis] just kept the ball down," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said after the game. "Just from his pitch count, he threw a lot of strikes. He got ahead early and really put us on the defensive."
Through the first six innings, both starters were in control, mirror images of dominance on the mound.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley worked quickly, hitting his spots and mixing and matching his pitches to keep the Rockies off balance.
He brushed off a one-out double to escape the first inning unharmed and regained form after an errant changeup led to Hawpe's solo shot.
"First [changeup] I think I've ever thrown [to Hawpe]," Billingsley said. "He's a good hitter, he's been hot. ... He's had some pretty good success off of me."
Aside from Hawpe's blast, it was a rare occasion when a Rockies batter made solid contact on the ball. Billingsely recorded four 1-2-3 innings, and his 11 strikeouts tied a season-high.
"Billingsley was great, I told him he went after it today," Torre said. "He certainly pitched well enough to win. He battled as he always does, I just thought his command was much better than it has been recently."
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, as good as Billingsley was, Marquis was that much better.
The truest testament to Marquis performance was a streak of 19 consecutive batters retired from James Loney's single with one out in the second to a two-out single by Juan Castro in the eighth.
"[Marquis] kept us off balance was throwing strikes," Matt Kemp said. "We just couldn't get it going today. He had his A-game."
Torre said one of the main reasons that Marquis was able to get though the night without throwing a ton of pitches was because many of his first pitches were strikes.
"Tonight it's easy to see why he was successful, because he had strike one, strike two on a lot of the hitters," Torre said. "When you're a hitter and the count's in the pitcher's favor, you can't be as selective as you'd like to be."
Helping to keep the Dodgers offense grounded was an unusual defensive strategy deployed against Monday's hero Andre Ethier.
After hitting a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th the night before, Ethier saw Colorado drop into a defensive shift to the right side of the infield when he was at the plate.
The strategy worked -- Ethier grounded out in his first two at-bats -- and also seemed to frustrate the Dodgers right fielder.
After his second groundout, Ethier jogged back to the dugout looking at the Colorado infielders as if he was trying to find a hole in the new defense.
As inept as the Dodgers offense was for much of the game, the club was still within striking distance until the top of the seventh.
Hawpe led off the inning with a single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki moved Hawpe over to put a runner on a third with one out.
But just when it looked like Billingsley was going to escape unharmed, the Rockies opened up their lead to a comfortable three runs.
Billngsley lost Chris Iannetta to a walk after jumping ahead in the count 1-2. And then with the bases loaded, he gave up a two-run single to Marquis that increased Colorado's lead to 3-0.
While a loss like Tuesday's might sting, the Dodgers don't have any time to spend dwelling on what went wrong against the Rockies. They face the Rockies for the rubber match of the three-game series at 12:10 p.m. PT on Wednesday.
"Yeah, because it's pretty much easy to turn the page now because we've got to play in about, I don't know, three hours," Kemp joked. "We've got a day game, we'll bounce back [Wednesday] and get them."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less