Matt Kemp’s late home run sends Rockies to first series win at Dodgers since 2018

The Rockies had not won a road series at the Dodgers in more than two years before Sunday night when Colorado finally woke up from its Los Angeles nightmare.

Matt Kemp, against his longtime former team, blasted an eighth-inning home run that scored Kevin Pillar and the Rockies escaped LA with a dramatic, 7-6, victory. It marks the first time the Dodgers have lost a series this season.

It wasn’t easy. There were four lead changes and two ties. Colorado pitchers combined to allow four home runs. But the Rockies, similarly to Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, showcased impressive resilience to get back to .500 on the year (20-20) with 20 games left in this shortened season.

Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story were combined hitless (0-for-8), but eight of the Rockies’ 12 hits came from the bottom of the order. Rockies’ reliever Yency Almonte (3-0) earned the pitching victory.

The Rockies were forced to climb out from an early deficit.

Starting pitcher Ryan Castellani’s seventh pitch of the night resulted in a deep shot to center courtesy of Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager for a 1-0 lead. Colorado was quick to respond, though, when Josh Fuentes extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-run blast (scoring Matt Kemp) to go up 2-1. The pendulum swung back to the Dodgers in the second inning when Castellani allowed his second solo home run of the night (Will Smith).

The 2-2 stalemate continued into the fourth inning as Colorado flashed impressive fielding with a pair of turned double plays. And, the Rockies re-took the lead in the fifth when leadoff hitter Raimel Tapia’s single scored Garrett Hampson, who stole second after a well-executed bunt. Nolan Arenado made it a two-run advantage, 4-2, when his single scored Tapia.

Colorado’s lead faded quickly.

Seager kept his bat blazing with a homer to center, scoring Enrique Hernandez, to tie the game at 4-4. It marked the end of Castellani’s outing after 4-1/3 innings pitched (six hits, four earned runs, one strikeout).

Dodgers reliever Jake McGee, released by the Rockies in July, made his first appearance Sunday against his old club with two outs in the sixth inning. Garrett Hampson, with Kevin Pillar at second, hammered a stand-up triple to put the Rockies up 5-4.

The Rockies advantage, once again, proved fleeting.

Colorado turned to pitcher Carlos Estevez in relief, his 19th game appearance this season, and the 27-year-old right-hander gave up the Rockies’ fourth home run of the night — a two-run blast from Chris Taylor that scored AJ Pollock in the sixth — to put LA back up 6-5.

Kemp’s home run gave Colorado the last lead it needed. Closer Daniel Bard put two runners on with two outs in the ninth, but forced Seager to groundout to end the game. Before Sunday, the Rockies’ last series victory in LA took place on June 29-July 1.

Colorado opens a three-game series at the Padres on Monday.