Greinke wins ERA title, 19th game as Dodgers clinch home field in NLDS
LOS ANGELES — Zack Greinke places no emphasis on individual statistics and is loath to consider his potential place among baseball’s greatest pitchers.
He leaves that to others. But the right-hander sure has given everyone a lot to think about this season.
Greinke earned the NL ERA title, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 Saturday night and clinch home-field advantage for their upcoming playoff series against the Mets.
"A lot of things are up in the air when you don’t know," manager Don Mattingly said. "This solidifies some of the things."
Greinke (19-3) allowed one run and four hits in eight innings to conclude the regular season with a 1.66 ERA, beating out Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, who finished at 1.77. Arrieta tossed a no-hitter against the Dodgers in August.
"I’m happy Zack pitched so well for all the rest of us," Mattingly said. "He’s more into the spirit of pitches and his game plan. Those things aren’t important to him."
Greinke earned the second ERA title of his career; his first was with Kansas City in 2009, when he won the AL Cy Young Award.
"I felt more dominant in 2009," he said. "This year there wasn’t hardly any errors behind me the whole year. We played really well as a team."
Greinke had the lowest ERA by a qualifying pitcher since Greg Maddux’s mark of 1.63 for Atlanta in 1995. It is the lowest for a Dodgers pitcher since Rube Marquard’s 1.58 in 1916.
"I probably made pitches better than any year before," Greinke said.
The Dodgers’ win combined with Washington’s doubleheader sweep of the Mets (89-72) ensured Los Angeles (91-70) will open the NL Division Series at home Friday against New York starter Jacob deGrom.
The Dodgers have yet to name their starter for Game 1.
"Pitching at home, you’re just a little bit more comfortable," Greinke said.
Greinke struck out eight, giving him 200 for the season and marking the fifth time in his career he reached that mark. He became the fifth pitcher since 1956 to record 200 or more strikeouts with an ERA of 1.70 or lower. He walked one.
"This year I don’t pay attention to strikeouts at all," he said. "In years past it would have been a big deal. Just trying to get outs is all I paid attention to."
Kenley Jansen allowed the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base with one out in the ninth when Jedd Gyorko singled and then Jansen hit Brett Wallace with a pitch. Jansen retired Alexi Amarista and Austin Hedges on consecutive flyouts to earn his 36th save in 38 chances.
Padres starter Robbie Erlin (1-2) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings while auditioning for a spot in next year’s rotation. The left-hander struck out four and walked none.
"I felt pretty good. My changeup I felt was pretty good and the curveball was in the mix this time," he said. "I tried to put my best foot forward."
Los Angeles extended its lead to 2-1 in the fourth when Adrian Gonzalez grounded into a double play, scoring Howie Kendrick, who singled leading off. Justin Turner homered with two outs in the first for the Dodgers’ first run.
Austin Hedges, who came in hitless in his last 10 at-bats, homered in the fifth for the Padres.
Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig went 1 for 3 with a single in his first game since Aug. 27. He came off the 15-day DL (right hamstring) to extend his hitting streak to 11 games dating to Aug. 23. He isn’t expected to start Sunday, but could pinch hit or enter as a defensive replacement. "I don’t need that much work to feel I can have good at-bats," said Puig, who appeared noticeably thinner. "All the work I’ve been doing in Arizona, I probably have lost a little weight."
WAIT `TIL NEXT YEAR
Hedges went 2 for 4 and hit his first homer since July 18. He lined out to end the game after the Padres had two runners on in the ninth.
"Hedgie had great at-bats all night. He looked like he was playing with a chip on his shoulder," San Diego manager Pat Murphy said. "That’s as good as I’ve seen him play. He’s capable of that, and that’s refreshing for Padre fans, knowing the future is bright. It was a memorable game for him and for Robbie, even though it was a loss."
Padres: Frank Garces (0-0, 5.00 ERA) allowed one hit and had one strikeout in one inning against Milwaukee on Wednesday. Scheduled starter James Shields was shut down for the season so the team could evaluate its bullpen.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.16) makes his final regular-season start while taking aim at reaching 300 strikeouts.