DENVER (AP) — As usual, the Los Angeles Dodgers got power and production up the middle. For once, center fielder Matt Kemp wasn't the one doing the heavy lifting.
Catcher A.J. Ellis homered and drove in three runs, shortstop Dee Gordon hit his first major league home run and second baseman Mark Ellis had four singles and made the game-saving play in the ninth inning to preserve a 7-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.
Their contributions helped Ted Lilly (3-0) pick up the win despite a shaky performance by the Dodgers bullpen. Lilly pitched six solid innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits, but he left after throwing just 79 pitches because of a stiff lat muscle.
"We just didn't want to push it too far," said manager Don Mattingly, who watched his bullpen fritter away almost all of the 7-2 lead Lilly left his relievers.
Javy Guerra struck out Carlos Gonzalez with the potential tying run 90 feet away to end it.
"That was fun," Mattingly said. "That's the way it's supposed to be, right? CarGo with the game on the line?"
The Dodgers pounded out 11 hits off Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin and then held on. The win capped a big day for the storied franchise, marking the end to the tumultuous Frank McCourt era.
The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson, was finalized Tuesday, just hours before the Dodgers improved to an NL-best 17-7.
"I think the fans of L.A. are pretty excited about the new ownership and what it's bringing. As long as L.A. is happy, I'm happy," Kemp said.
The Dodgers were even happier after this latest display of pinpoint pitching from Lilly and power at the plate that has propelled them to their best start since 1983.
Even with a 7-0 lead after five innings, they weren't exactly comfortable at Coors Field, however.
"Every inning we'd come in and say we need more runs, we need more runs," Mark Ellis said. "Nothing against our pitchers. That's just the way this is. And then that wind starts blowing a little bit and you know we need to score some more runs. And we held on."
Thanks in large part to the second baseman's play that robbed Marco Scutaro of a tying single up the middle with one out in the ninth and Wilin Rosario on second base.
"Just good scouting, I guess," Todd Helton said.