Dodgers beat Rox, stay close in NL West

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Denver. AP PHOTO

DENVER (AP) — Pinch-hitter Albert Pujols drew on his vast baseball wisdom to get that clutch hit. Once he reached first base, he celebrated like a kid.

Pennant chases will do that.

Pujols drove in the go-ahead run with a single up the middle in the 10th inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a rare off night by major league wins leader Julio Urías to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, you have to have fun,” the 41-year-old Pujols said. “You have to show your emotion and what you feel about it.”

Pujols tapped his head and waved his hands in celebration. He may have even received a beer shower from teammates following the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts cracked.

“Shows how much guys respect and adore him,” Roberts said.

And how important that hit was, too.

The Dodgers have won nine of their last 10 and remained one game behind San Francisco in the NL West. Los Angeles has already clinched a playoff spot.

Pujols said he can smell when it’s getting close to his time and begins preparing. Warmed up in the cool weather, he stepped into the box and lined a slider from Jhoulys Chacín (3-2) past diving second baseman Brendan Rodgers. It brought home Gavin Lux, who began at second base under baseball’s extra-innings rule.

Pujols was loudly cheered by the large cluster of Dodgers fans at Coors Field.

It marked the second time in Pujols’ career he had a go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI in extra innings. He also had a homer at Pittsburgh on Sept. 5, 2009.

Kenley Jansen (3-4) pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth to earn the win. Brusdar Graterol got two outs in the 10th before giving way to Alex Vesia, who picked up save No. 1 by getting Colton Welker to fly out.

Urías, the major league leader with 18 wins, surrendered seven hits and four runs over six innings in a no-decision. He hasn’t lost a game since June 21.

The left-hander figures to have two more starts to reach the 20-win mark, which would make him the fourth Mexicanborn pitcher to accomplish the feat in a season. He would join Dodgers standout Fernando Valenzuela (1986), along with Teddy Higuera (1986) and Esteban Loiaza (2003).

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