McCarthy strong in return as Dodgers earn sweep of Rockies
LOS ANGELES (AP) Fourteen months later, Brandon McCarthy surprised himself by shaking off the nerves he expected to have in his first start after more than a year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
''I thought there'd be more, but once I started getting loose it felt very normal,'' he said.
McCarthy settled down to throw five scoreless innings in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 4-1 victory Sunday over the Colorado Rockies.
''Weirdly, it almost felt like I'd taken a week off since last year. It felt like a continuation. That was a nice surprise. In the past, I've had that before after a rehab where I've come out and felt like a hyped-up rookie.''
McCarthy (1-0) held the Rockies to a pair of singles in his first major league start since April 25, 2015. He struck out eight and walked one.
The Dodgers won their ninth straight at home and their sixth game in seven overall, powered by solo homers by Trace Thompson and Yasmani Grandal.
Instead of crumbling after getting the news that Clayton Kershaw was headed for the disabled list, the Dodgers have won four straight.
''I think Kersh will tell you everyone is the same here,'' Thompson said. ''Obviously, we're not. In our eyes he's the best player in baseball. We can't replace Clayton Kershaw. Everybody just has to do a little bit more, that's all it really is.''
Thompson homered to right-center off Rockies starter Jon Gray (5-4) to lead off the second inning, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Grandal led off the eighth with a home run off reliever Chad Qualls that landed over the left-center field wall, just beyond the grasp of a leaping Charlie Blackmon.
Daniel Descalso provided the Rockies' only run with a homer on a 3-2 pitch from reliever Casey Fein with one out in the seventh.
The Rockies were unable to get a baserunner past second base in the three-game series, scoring their only runs on solo homers by Descalso and Nolan Arenado. In the series, they managed just 12 hits in the three games while striking out a combined 41 times.
''It was just a terrible series. Way too many strikeouts,'' said Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez. ''Not creating situations for each other. It was just bad overall.
''I feel like the entire series was our fault. The pitchers did a great job. (Jorge De La Rosa) gave us a chance to win and we didn't. Gray pitched great today. You just have to blame it on the offense. You can't win if you don't score.''
Corey Seager lined a hard single to right in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, tying him with Miami's Marcel Ozuna for the longest in the National League this season. Seager went 2 for 4 and is hitting .415 during the streak (25 for 67).
Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 24th save.
Justin Turner had a one-out, RBI single in the second, his eighth hit in his last four games.
The victory gave the Dodgers their fifth series sweep of the season, and their first over the Rockies since April 17-19, 2015.
For McCarthy, the start was his fifth in a Dodgers uniform since signing a four-year, $48 million contract before last season. He was 3-0 in four starts before the elbow injury that required surgery.
Since getting the news that Kershaw was going on the disabled list, Los Angeles starters (Kenta Maeda, Bud Norris, Scott Kazmir and McCarthy) over the last four games have given up one run and eight hits in 23 innings.
LIGHTS OUT IN LA
The Rockies have scored just two runs in their last four games in Los Angeles, and one run or less in seven of their last 10 games, dating back to May 17, 2015. The Rockies are 5-17 in Los Angeles since June 16, 2014.
The Dodgers came into Sunday's game with a 46-37 record, the identical 83-game mark they posted in both 2014 and 2015.
Rockies: RHP Tyler Chatwood (back), sidelined since June 18, will start for the Rockies against the Giants. ... SS Trevor Story was ''much, much better'' as he recovers from a finger injury, manager Walt Weiss said. ''He's swinging in the cage and looks really good. It's just a matter of if he gets jammed or hits a ball off the end of the bat, how is it going to affect him.'' Story pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out.
Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu could return to the Dodgers' rotation as early as this week, said Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. Ryu has made eight rehab starts as he recovers from surgery to repair his left shoulder, which has sidelined him since the beginning of the 2015 season. The Dodgers are deciding if Ryu needs one more rehab start.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson will make his fifth start of his career Monday against the San Francisco Giants. The Rockies are 1-3 in Anderson's four starts and have scored a combined three runs while Anderson has been pitching.
Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (1-2,4.09) makes the eighth start of his career Monday in the July 4 opener of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, his first interleague start. In his last five starts, Urias is 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings.