Chris Taylor couldn’t have picked a better time to launch his first career walk-off home run.
He hit a high-arching, two-strike solo shot to left field in the 10th inning, lifting the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies that extended Los Angeles’ NL West lead to 1 ½ games on Tuesday night.
“In this tight division race that was big,” said the soft-spoken outfielder who has struggled with his swing this season.
Taylor raised his right arm in the air even before he rounded first base, watching the ball sail into the cool evening air off Adam Ottavino (6-4).
“I had a pretty good feeling it was going long,” he said.
Taylor was mobbed by his teammates at home plate as they bopped up and down in celebration. A day after moving past the Rockies into first place, the five-time defending NL champions matched their largest lead of the season on Taylor’s one-out drive.
“He really epitomizes what we’re about as a team,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Being prepared when called upon. It couldn’t happen to a better teammate.”
The Dodgers won the series opener 8-2 on homers by Joc Pederson and Max Muncy.
Dylan Floro (6-3) led a stellar bullpen effort, getting the win by striking out two in the 10th.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings. He walked five and struck out three while struggling with his command.
“I threw the ball OK,” Kershaw said. “Sometimes you’re going to have to work through things. Obviously too much traffic out there.”
Kenta Maeda relieved Kershaw and struck out the side on 10 pitches in the eighth. Kenley Jansen worked the ninth, allowing a leadoff hit to Gerardo Parra before retiring the next three batters.
“We’ve been sort of inconsistent all year long, so things are coming together at the right time,” Roberts said.
The loss dropped Colorado 1 ½ games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot.
“We’ve got to score more runs. We’ve got to get more hits,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “This is something we talk about every afternoon when we get to the ballpark. We’ve got to press on.”
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked four.
The Dodgers tied it 2-all in the fifth when Austin Barnes scored on a throwing error by third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Colorado took a 2-1 lead on Charlie Blackmon’s 27th homer in the fifth. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games, currently the longest active one in the majors.
The Rockies tied it 1-all in the third on errors by third baseman Justin Turner and left fielder Taylor. DJ LeMahieu was safe at first when the ball went past Turner’s glove, which allowed Garrett Hampson to take third and Blackmon to advance to second. The ball went into left field where Taylor couldn’t field it cleanly, allowing Hampson to score.
The Dodgers led 1-0 on Matt Kemp’s RBI single in the first.
Rockies: SS Trevor Story has inflammation in his right elbow, but there’s no structural damage and it’s possible he can return to the lineup in a few days. He tweaked his elbow on a throw in the first inning Monday night and aggravated it on a swing in the fourth.
Kemp began the evening catching a first pitch from his mother, Judy, on the slugger’s bobblehead night. He went 1 for 4.
The Dodgers improved to 8-7 in extra innings this season with their sixth walk-off win.
“Our depth is our biggest strength,” Taylor said. “We’re built for extra-inning games with how many guys we have.”
Each team had two errors, and both of the Rockies’ were committed by Arenado. The five-time Gold Glover tied his career high for the sixth time.
LHP Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.82 ERA) starts the series finale for the Rockies. He held the Giants to two runs over six innings in his last outing after overcoming mechanical issues. RHP Walker Buehler (7-5, 2.88) goes for the Dodgers. He’s coming off an eight-inning, nine-strikeout performance against St. Louis.