Juan Uribe is enjoying this season infinitely more than his first two with the Dodgers. For one, Los Angeles is heading toward a division title. For another, he’s been playing a major role on both sides of the ball.
Uribe homered in each of his first three trips to the plate, and the Dodgers connected six times Monday night in an 8-1 romp over the Arizona Diamondbacks that reduced their magic number for clinching the NL West title to eight.
The 34-year-old third baseman, batting .279 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs, is in the final year of a three-year, $21 million contract he signed as a free agent after helping San Francisco win the 2010 World Series title. In the previous two seasons combined, he had six homers and 40 RBIs.
"He’s a great guy and one of the guys that we all look to in the clubhouse," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "I know he’s taken his share of blows over the last two years, so it’s great that he’s having a good year and he’s been a big part of what we’ve done."
Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez also went deep in the Dodgers’ biggest power display in almost seven years. Ricky Nolasco (13-9) won his seventh straight decision over eight starts as Los Angeles scored its first seven runs on the long ball.
It was the first time the Dodgers hit as many as six home runs in a game since Sept. 18, 2006, when they highlighted a seven-homer barrage with four in a row in the ninth inning against San Diego and won it on a two-run shot in the 10th by Nomar Garciaparra.
Los Angeles’ first four homers came off Randall Delgado (4-6), who threw 70 pitches over 2 2-3 innings in his Dodger Stadium debut. The Panamanian right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA and 13 home runs allowed in eight starts since earning his first major league complete game and shutout on July 26.
Ethier drove Delgado’s second pitch of the second inning to center field for his 12th homer, and Uribe sent a 2-0 pitch into the left field pavilion for the Dodgers’ fourth set of back-to-back homers this season.
It was more of the same in the third. Gonzalez hit his 20th homer after a double by Ramirez, and Uribe went deep again on a full count — marking his 10th multihomer game and first since Sept. 23, 2010.
"He has good stuff, but he just has to learn to locate and keep pitches out of the middle of the zone," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.
Two innings later, Uribe completed his first three-homer game in the majors with a two-out drive into the pavilion seats in left-center. Ramirez homered on reliever Eury De La Rosa’s first pitch of the fifth.
Uribe was the eighth player in the majors this season to hit three homers, and the first Dodger to do it since Ethier on June 26, 2009, against Seattle.
"They don’t come too often, but it’s fun from that perspective — to see a guy locked in and square the ball that well," Ethier said. "I’ve been feeling good about him all year."
Uribe also beat out an infield single to third base in the seventh against Heath Bell to drive in the Dodgers’ final run, capping his first four hit game since April 23, 2001, against Atlanta.
Coming off a three-game sweep by Cincinnati that ended with a pair of walk-off wins by the Reds, the Dodgers began a stretch of seven games in 11 days against the second-place Diamondbacks, who are 12 games off the pace with 19 remaining for both clubs.
"Obviously, they’re the ones chasing us, so I think it’s important for us to put them away and we have a great chance to distance ourselves from them going head-to-head," Ethier said. "But at the same time, we needed to get back on our own game. We had a little losing streak on the end of the road trip and had a tough series in Cincinnati, and we needed to figure out how to get back to doing what we need to be doing."
The Dodgers ended a four-game losing streak, their longest since a season-worst eight-game skid in May that included a three-game series against the Diamondbacks at Chavez Ravine. The D-backs held a 9-game lead on Los Angeles on June 22, when the Dodgers were last in the division. Since then, the Diamondbacks have gone 31-38 while the Dodgers have gone 53-17.
Nolasco allowed an unearned run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings and struck out six. The right-hander, who pitched eight scoreless innings in each of his previous two starts at Dodger Stadium against the Red Sox and Cubs, extended his home scoreless streak to 24 1-3 innings before Didi Gregorius hit a two-out RBI double in the fifth.
Martin Prado, who returned to the Arizona lineup after missing two games with flu-like symptoms, singled with one out in the second for the D-backs’ only hit through the first four innings.
NOTES: The earliest calendar date the Dodgers have ever clinched a division title was Sept. 20, 1977, Tommy Lasorda’s first season as manager, when they finished 10 games ahead of Cincinnati. … Monday was the 48th anniversary of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game against the Chicago Cubs — the only perfecto in franchise history. … Nolasco is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three starts against the Diamondbacks this season, including a 2-1 decision with the Marlins on May 19 at Miami. He beat the D-backs 6-1 in his Dodgers debut on July 9 at Phoenix. … Nolasco has allowed fewer than two earned runs in 10 of his 12 starts with Los Angeles, and is 8-1 with a 2.19 ERA during that stretch.