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Thursday, July 3, 2014
Dodgers glad to see Greinke return to form

By Brent W. New
Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

DENVER -- Los Angeles Dodgers' first baseman Adrian Gonzalez walked up and down the visitor's dugout in the ninth inning, yelling for a run in a tie game at a sold-out Coors Field on Thursday night.

He certainly didn't want to see Zack Greinke's superb eight-inning effort go to waste -- and apparently, neither did Juan Uribe, who brought home Matt Kemp in the top of the ninth with a sharp single to center to give Greinke a share of the National League lead with 11 wins.

They knew -- everybody in the Dodgers' organization knew -- Greinke needed this win.

Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke looked like his old self in a win over the Rockies, earning his 11th win of the season to tie for the NL lead.
"We hadn't done much offensively in the back part of the game, so we wanted to get some runs, to get Zack the win first of all," said Gonzalez, who was one of only four Dodgers players with a hit in Los Angeles' 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday. "So we could get Zack the win because he pitched so well. Anytime you can come in here and give up only two runs, it's pretty special."

Greinke has been the window display of consistency for the Dodgers this season, giving up three or more runs in only three of his 18 starts. But make no mistake about it, Greinke needed this performance -- he needed this win.

Even with ace Clayton Kershaw on the roster, the Dodgers will need Greinke to be lights out in the second half of the season if they want to hold off the San Francisco Giants, and perhaps the rest of the straggling NL West division.

And on Thursday, that's exactly what Greinke was. After a one-run performance against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28, Greinke continued to look sharp at hitter-friendly Coors Field, and took another step forward going eight inning while giving up only two runs.

"It felt like everyone was excited for the game and really confident we were going to get the game," said Greinke, who allowed Justin Morneau to tie the score with an RBI triple in the eighth. "Even after I gave up that run in the eighth inning, it seemed like everyone was still as confident."

Maybe they were feeding off Greinke, who has looked like a much more confident and poised pitcher in his last two starts -- a far cry from what he showed for most of June.

It's just different now. Everyone sees it.

No, the 30-year-old pitcher wasn't bad by any means last month, giving up 16 earned runs. But when you take into account he'd given up 16 earned runs in the April and May combined, you knew it wasn't the same Greinke, nor was it the Greinke that the Dodgers will need.

"I think the past couple games he's been back to himself," manager Don Mattingly said. "He had a few there in a row where it seemed he wasn't quite as sharp."

Greinke, who has double-digit wins before the All-Star break for the first time since he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2009, will have a chance at 12 wins before the break when L.A. faces Detroit on Wednesday.