LOS ANGELES -- The last thought on the mind of manager Don Mattingly when his team entered the ninth inning with a seven-run lead was that he would have to use closer Javy Guerra in a save situation. Colorado skipper Jim Tracy was thinking the same thing.
But there was Guerra in another nail-biting jam, after Hong-Chih Kuo and Mike MacDougal failed to do the job. The Colorado Rockies had four runs in and were threatening for more when Guerra shut the door and preserved an 8-5 victory for the Dodgers on Monday night.
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"It's nice to see Guerra just take over that role head-on and be confident doing it. He's stepped up for us and been a key guy," said Andre Ethier, who ended a nine-game RBI drought with a two-run homer and added an RBI single.
"Sometimes it's our fault as hitters, because we rely too much on our bullpen. And usually when those guys come in to pitch, it's either a one or a two-run game. So they probably didn't have too much intensity with a seven-run lead on the board. Maybe the other guys just wanted to get Guerra's save numbers up tonight."
Dodgers rookie Rubby De La Rosa (4-4) worked with runners on base in each of the first three innings. Colorado scored in the second when Chris Iannetta singled with two out, took third on pitcher Juan Nicasio's single and came home on a single by Dexter Fowler -- his first career RBI at Dodger Stadium after 81 fruitless at-bats here.
The Rockies didn't get their next hit until the ninth, when Seth Smith led off with a single against Kuo. Guerra got the final two outs for his eighth save in as many chances after Mike MacDougal walked Todd Helton with the bases loaded. Guerra retired Rockies home run and RBI leader Troy Tulowitzki on a first-pitch popup, then got Smith to ground out to second.
"You wouldn't think that we would have been in the position we were in the ninth inning with the go-ahead run standing at home plate, when you consider the fact that we had only three hits up until the ninth," Tracy said. "That inning obviously didn't work out very well for us, but we didn't go down easily. And you have to give our guys credit for that."
Tracy wasn't too happy about Tulowitzki's decision to attack Guerra's first pitch.
"We had the right guy at the plate representing the go-ahead run," Tracy said. "It was pretty intriguing. And if the count goes to one ball and no strikes, then it gets even more intriguing. But Tulo likes to hit the high pitch, and he was obviously looking for something to drive. But the pitch was way up out of the strike zone.
"If you take ball one, obviously this guy can't be real fine about where he's going beyond that point," Tracy added. "He's got to get a strike in there somewhere, so the opportunity would have been there."
De La Rosa won for the first time in six weeks after winning his first two big-league starts. Aaron Miles and recently acquired Juan Rivera had run-scoring doubles to help the 22-year-old right-hander end a winless stretch of six straight starts since beating the Rockies 10-8 at Coors Field.
De La Rosa allowed a run and three hits over six innings, struck out five and walked four. He has giving up seven earned runs in 31 innings during his past five outings, and has an overall ERA of 3.49 in his nine big-league starts.
Nicasio (4-3) gave up five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking two. He had allowed only one run in 14 innings over his previous two starts, beating Milwaukee and getting a no-decision against Atlanta.
Los Angeles grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third, when Rafael Furcal and Miles doubled with one out and Ethier drove his 10th home run into the pavilion seats in right-center on the first pitch. The two RBI were Ethier's first since July 10, when he hit two solo home runs in a 4-1 victory against San Diego at Chavez Ravine.
"He has good stuff, and he's got a live fastball. You can see why they have a lot of hope for the future with those quality young starters they have," Ethier said of Nicasio. "I didn't think he had the command he had last time. But when you have that kind of stuff, you're going to keep guys at bay. We had a four-run lead when he went out, and it could have been a lot closer if he made some more quality pitches."
The Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the sixth with Rivera's RBI double and a two-out run-scoring single by Dioner Navarro that chased Nicasio. They added three more in the ninth off Esmil Rogers, who was reinstated from the disabled list before the game. Ethier singled home Los Angeles' final run.
Jason Giambi pinch-hit for Mark Ellis in the Rockies' ninth and tweaked his left quad running out a grounder to second baseman second baseman Jamey Carroll, whose throwing error allowed a run to score. ... Rogers missed 75 games because of a strained right lat muscle, followed by a strained oblique muscle in his right side during his minor league rehab assignment. ... LHP Eric Stults was designated for assignment by Colorado, after allowing eight runs and four home runs in six relief appearances. Stults was in the Dodgers' minor-league system during Jim Tracy's final four seasons as Los Angeles' manager. ... The Rockies (48-55) are seven games under .500 for the first time since June 8, 2009, when they won their fifth consecutive game during a 17-1 surge that propelled them to a postseason berth. They had a chance to overtake the Dodgers for the NL West title in the final series of the season, but lost the final two games after clinching the wild card in the series opener. ... Iannetta drew his 57th walk of the season, breaking his own franchise record for catchers. ... Miles started his second successive game at 3B for the Dodgers because of Juan Uribe's lower abdominal strain, and utilityman Eugenio Velez made his first start at 2B since April 11, 2010, with San Francisco. Uribe is scheduled to get an MRI exam on Tuesday. ... Miles played for the Rockies in 2004 and 2005.