HIGHLIGHTS: Pat Valaika homers twice in big NL West matchup

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It’s only mid-May, but the four-game series between the Rockies and Dodgers at Coors Field sure seemed important. The surprising Rockies entered the series leading the NL West, but the hard-charging and longtime class of the division Dodgers could take the lead with a series victory. Entering Sunday’s finale, the winner would claim the top spot in the West.

On a day that featured a pitching matchup of two of the most promising young arms in the National League, Colorado’s Antonio Senzatela and LA’s Julio Urias, it was Rockies rookie shortstop Pat Valaika who played the hero. Starting in place of Trevor Story, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain, Valaika hit a pair of home runs and drove in four runs in a 9-6 Rockies victory. His two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth gave Colorado a chance to breathe after allowing the Dodgers to creep within one run in the bottom of the inning.

Greg Holland secured a franchise-record-setting 16th consecutive save to open the season by striking out the side in the top of the ninth inning. Now a perfect 16-for-16, Holland broke Jose Jimenez‘s mark of 15 straight conversions at the beginning of the 2002 season. Charlie Blackmon was a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate and DJ LeMahieu had three hits on the day as well. Nolan Arenado hit his ninth home run of the season and Senzatela picked up win No. 6 on the year, tying him with LA’s Clayton Kershaw for the most in the National League.

With the win, the Rockies move 1.5 games ahead of Los Angeles for first place in the NL West. Colorado has an off day Monday before embarking on a 10-game road trip. They will open with a three-game series against the Twins before traveling to Cincinnati for a weekend series. They’ll wrap up the season-long roadie with four games against the Phillies.

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