Dodgers clinch NL West, beat Arizona 7-6

The Arizona Diamondbacks almost got the Los Angeles Dodgers out

of town, if not out of mind.

But the Dodgers rallied in the final game between the two teams

this season for a 7-6 victory on Thursday behind Hanley Ramirez’s

two home runs.

And the Diamondbacks had to watch the Dodgers celebrate

clinching the NL West title.

”Maybe this year it’s them,” Arizona’s Martin Prado said,

”maybe next year it’s us.”

The Dodgers ran back out from the clubhouse and jumped in the

Chase Field swimming pool to celebrate, much to the displeasure of

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers and other members of the

organization.

But there was little that could be done. It was time for the

Dodgers to party, and for the Diamondbacks to contemplate a faded

season.

”We were in first place for a long time and let it slip away,”

Arizona starter Wade Miley said. ”To watch them do that it is hard

to swallow.”

Ramirez, in the lineup after being sidelined five of six games

with an irritated nerve in his lower back, played in his 1,090th

career game, but this will be his first postseason. Only three

active players have played more games without making the

playoffs.

”I want to keep going,” Ramirez said. ”I think that we’ve got

a couple of more steps to do. We’ve got to keep working and stay

together all the way through to the end.”

The Diamondbacks could be chasing the Dodgers for some time.

Despite an NL-high payroll of $214 million-plus on opening day,

the Dodgers got off to an 30-42 start and were last in the

division, 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks, before

play on June 22. Los Angeles has gone 58-23 since, including an

unreal 42-8 run.

The Dodgers trailed 6-3 in the sixth and A.J. Ellis hit a

tiebreaking homer off Josh Collmenter (4-4) leading off the

eighth.

J.P. Howell (2-1) got two outs for the victory.

Ramirez, hit a three-run homer in the third inning and a tying

solo shot in the seventh. It was his 14th career multihomer game

and first since Aug. 18 of last year.

It was fitting he was the star of the clinching win.

”We’re a veteran ballclub,” Adrian Gonzalez said. ”We

understand it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

In the ninth, with a sizeable contingent of Dodger fans roaring

its approval, Kenley Jansen fanned Paul Goldschmidt and Martin

Prado before Hill’s fly all ended it for his 26th save.

Arizona manager Kirk Gibson, whose team won the division two

years ago, appreciated what the Dodgers had accomplished, even if

it was difficult to watch them celebrate on the Diamondbacks’

turf.

”You just take it in and reflect on some things,” Gibson said.

”We still have to play hard the rest of the way out. It is

disappointing. We fought hard and the guys played good today. We

were unable to secure the lead. `’

With new ownership taking over from Frank McCourt on May 1 last

year, the Dodgers stumbled this spring and Mattingly’s job appeared

to be in jeopardy.

But Los Angeles won 17 of 20 leading into the All-Star break and

was 22 games above .500 after a three-game sweep of the Mets on

Aug. 17.

Lately, the banged-up team had struggled, losing nine of 12 and

five of six entering Thursday’s games.

Los Angeles started strong in this one, though.

Miley’s troubles in the third began when he walked Dodgers

starter Ricky Nolasco to lead off the inning. Yasiel Puig was

forced out at second on a throw from right fielder Gerardo Parra

after the base runner held up on Jerry Hairston Jr.’s blooper. That

brought up Ramirez and he homered to left to make it 3-0.

Nolasco couldn’t hold it.

Arizona started the third with four consecutive hits, including

an RBI double from Paul Goldschmidt and two-run triple by Prado to

tie it at 3. Miguel Montero singled Prado home with the go-ahead

run. After Parra’s two-out single, Miley’s double to deep

left-center brought the runners in to make it 6-3.

Los Angeles came back.

Consecutive doubles by Juan Uribe and Scott Van Slyke, followed

by Ellis’ RBI single cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth, then Ramirez

led off the seventh with his 20th home run of the season, on an 0-2

pitch from Chaz Roe, and it was tied 6-all.

Collmenter came on to get Arizona out of trouble in the seventh,

but Ellis, the No. 9 hitter in the Dodgers batting order, sent the

first pitch of the eighth just over the fence in left and Los

Angeles led 7-6.

Miley went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits with

four walks and three strikeouts. Nolasco went five innings, giving

up six runs on nine hits.

NOTES: Dodgers 1B Gonzalez sat out the game with sore

quadriceps. … Los Angeles moves on to San Diego, where RHP

Edinson Volquez (9-11, 5.94 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers in

Friday night’s series opener against Padres LHP Robbie Erlin (2-3,

5.18). … Arizona embarks on its final road trip of the season,

with Randall Delgado (5-6, 3.98) going for the Diamondbacks against

Colorado’s Jholys Chacin (13-9. 3.22). … The Diamondbacks have

three home games left, against Washington Sept. 27-29.