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Kenta Maeda baffles Rockies, leads Dodgers to 4-1 win

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DENVER (AP) Kenta Maeda held Colorado hitless into the sixth inning, A.J. Ellis lined a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Rockies 4-1 on Saturday night.

Maeda (3-0) allowed three hits – all in the sixth – no runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings as the right-hander from Japan lowered his ERA to 0.36.

With a wind-up reminiscent of countryman Hideo Nomo, Maeda was cruising along until one out in the sixth when DJ LeMahieu singled for Colorado’s first hit. Nomo remains the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Coors Field – on Sept. 17, 1996.

Ellis hit his first homer of the season in the second to help the Dodgers end a five-game slide in Denver. Kenley Jansen threw a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

Tyler Chatwood (2-2) allowed three runs before exiting after the fourth with an elevated pitch count. He missed last season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.

Maeda was untouchable most of the night by keeping the Rockies off balance with a nasty breaking ball mixed in with a pinpoint fastball.

Early on, the Dodgers defense did their part to keep the no-hitter intact with left fielder Enrique Hernandez making a full-sprint, over-the-shoulder catch to rob Tony Wolters of an extra-base hit in the fifth.

An inning earlier, third baseman Howie Kendrick shifted over to shallow right field with Carlos Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez sent a hard liner that Kendrick easily caught.

So dominant most of the night, Maeda ran into trouble in the sixth after LeMahieu’s single. He gave up another to Trevor Story and then an infield single to Gonzalez to load the bases. But he retired Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra to get out of the inning.

The 28-year-old Maeda faced one batter – striking out Ryan Raburn – in the seventh before turning it over to the bullpen. The shutout was spoiled later in the inning on an RBI double from Brandon Barnes.

Maeda signed a $25 million, eight-year contract in January that could be worth $106.2 million if he stays healthy.

The 28-year-old received his first taste of Coors Field, which requires a pitcher to keep his pitches down and stay in command – all of which Maeda does, anyway.

“When he does that, he can pitch on the moon,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: RHP Yimi Garcia (biceps soreness) was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Righty Zach Lee was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. … LHP Scott Kazmir is dealing with a sore left thumb/wrist, but is still scheduled to start Wednesday against Miami. … INF Justin Turner wasn’t in the lineup after having his big toe stepped on by Rockies catcher Tony Wolters on Friday.

Rockies: C Nick Hundley (concussion) will play two rehab games in Las Vegas with Triple-A Albuquerque as he tests a new mask with more padding. He may be activated Monday, “if all goes well,” manager Walt Weiss said. … OF Charlie Blackmon (turf toe) could be sent out on a rehab assignment as soon as next week.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (1-2) tries to bounce back after allowing six runs – three earned – in four innings during an 8-1 loss to Atlanta last Tuesday.

Rockies: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-1) is 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA in his career against Los Angeles.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.