LOS ANGELES(AP) The Dodgers' magic number for clinching the NL West is down to zero - finally.
After a season-worst five-game losing streak, they came through with one game left in the regular season and beat the stubborn
5-0 on Saturday night with a five-run seventh triggered by run scoring hits from pinch-hitters
and six scoreless innings by 21-year-old lefty
Los Angeles' second straight division title wasn't as easy to secure as it appeared to be last weekend, when it held a six-game
lead with seven games remaining.
''It never gets old,'' said manager
, whose will be going to the postseason for a record-tying 14th straight year with his 13th division title, including 10 with
the Yankees and one with Atlanta.
''You do it with different people all the time. It's what
said. You have to have some little boy inside you to play this game, and we certainly showed that tonight.''
The Rockies, who were 15 1/2 games behind the Dodgers on June 3, entered this three-game series having to sweep to win their
first division title in the franchise's 17-year history.
''Teams go through spells and ours kind of came at the end of the season,'' Loretta said. ''We had a week or so where we were
having some tough luck and weren't too good. We were looking forward to this night - and maybe looking too far ahead. So to
come through and kind of exhale a little bit going into the playoffs, I think we're in good shape.''
The Rockies took the opener 4-3 for their fifth straight win and ninth in 12 games, but will have to settle for their second
wild-card berth in three years and a matchup with the defending World Series champion Phillies.
And they may have to start the division series without
Jorge De La Rosa
, who left the game in the fourth inning because of tightness in his right groin.
''When you're in, anything can happen. I think a lot of teams proven that,'' Rockies shortstop
said. ''We proved that in '07 as a wild-card team when we got to the World Series. You just want to get in there. Obviously
it would have been nice to win the division and it would be cool to say we won the West. But we're still in.''
The Dodgers can now concentrate on next Wednesday's division series opener at Chavez Ravine against the Central Division champion
St. Louis Cardinals. It will be a rematch of their 2004 NLDS showdown, when the Cards won and the teams shook hands after
the final game. The Dodgers' manager then was
, who now calls the shots for the Rockies.
''We did put a scare into them. But you know, we're one of eight teams that have an opportunity to play for a world championship,
and I'm sure there's 22 others that would like to have that opportunity,'' Tracy said. ''I've had the taste of this once before.
There's a sense of accomplishment there. Looking back on it, you wonder how much different it might have been had we not climbed
out of the hole we had to climb out of.''
led off the seventh against
(3-2) with a single and continued to second when center fielder
misplayed it for only his second error of the season.
sacrificed Blake to third and Belliard, batting for
, followed with a sharp grounder off the glove of first baseman
. After a walk to
, Loretta had an RBI double and
had an RBI single.
added a sacrifice fly and
capped the rally with an RBI single.
Morales was charged with all five runs.
Hong-Chih Kuo (2-0) pitched a perfect seventh for the victory.
did likewise in the eighth and
got the last three outs.
The Dodgers' closer retired
on a fly to right fielder
and sent the sellout crowd of 54,531 into a frenzy as Broxton's teammates rushed the mound in celebration of the Dodgers'
first back-to-back division titles since 1977-78.
''To clinch the division and clinch home-field advantage, there's nothing like it to be out there on that last out with the
crowd behind you. It was just an awesome time out there,'' Broxton said.
Kershaw left no doubt as to who was in charge this night, striking out his first five batters and retiring his first 11 in
Things got testy in the third inning, when Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer was ejected by plate umpire Doug Eddings for griping
from the dugout about a called strike with Kershaw at the plate. Once he got back on the mound, Kershaw kept throwing strikes.
He had nine strikeouts through the first 3 2-3 innings.
De La Rosa retired his first nine batters before injuring himself on his 40th pitch.
The left-hander was relieved by
with a 2-0 count on
, who singled and advanced to third on a pair of groundouts. But Ramirez lined out to right field.
Kershaw allowed three hits, struck out 10 and walked three.
Saturday was an ugly anniversary for the Dodgers on several counts. In 1951,
gave up a three-run homer by
in the bottom of the ninth inning at New York's Polo Grounds as the New York Giants won the NL pennant with a stunning 5-4
win in the deciding game of a three-game playoff.
In 1962, the Dodgers lost the third and deciding game of another three-game playoff with the Giants, who rallied with four
runs in the ninth to win 6-4 at Los Angeles and advanced to the World Series.
NOTE: Among those in attendance was the oldest living major league player, former Brooklyn Dodger INF
, who turns 100 years old on Monday. ... Pierre was presented with the team's fourth annual Roy Campanella Award by Campy's
daughter, Joni Roan, in a pregame ceremony.