Dodgers open pivotal series with win over Rockies

Yasiel Puig hit a home run in his return from suspension, and Clayton Kershaw pitched six strong innings as the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers closed the gap on the first-place Colorado Rockies with a 4-2 victory Friday night.

The Dodgers opened a key National League West series by moving a half-game behind the division-leading Rockies. The teams face each other two more times this weekend and three more times later this month in Los Angeles.

Puig went deep in the second inning for his 16th home run of the season and first since Aug. 11. He missed the past two games as discipline for an on-field confrontation with the San Francisco Giants’ Nick Hundley in August.

Kershaw (7-5) gave up two runs on six hits over six innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. He picked up his 22nd career victory over the Rockies, tied for his most against a single team (Giants).

Kenta Maeda recorded the final two outs for his second save. The Dodgers are without closer Kenley Jansen, who did not make the trip to Colorado as a precaution because of an irregular heartbeat that had him on the disabled list last month.

Matt Holliday hit a home run, his second in 11 games with Colorado this season.

Rockies starter Jon Gray gave up two runs on four hits over four innings with five walks. He struck out four. Chris Rusin (2-3) earned the loss in relief.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double from Cody Bellinger. Puig made it 2-0 in the second inning with his home run and added an RBI single in the fifth.

The Rockies tied the game in the second inning. Holliday’s home run was followed three batters later by an RBI single from Drew Butera.

The Dodgers took the lead for good in the fifth on a throwing error by five-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado at third on a ground ball from Alex Verdugo.

Rockies manager Bud Black was ejected in the fifth inning after a balk was called on Rusin.