Dodgers pound Lincecum, inch closer to West crown
The Los Angeles Dodgers may get a chance over the next 1 1-2 weeks to find out if champagne stains come out of gray uniforms easier than from white ones.
Andre Ethier hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Tim Lincecum, Ronnie Belliard added a two-run single against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, and the NL West leaders beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 on Sunday to go 30 games over .500 for the first time in almost 24 years.
The Dodgers, who clinched the division title at home last season with three games to spare, now embark on a nine-game road trip through Washington, Pittsburgh and San Diego. They are five games ahead of second-place Colorado with 12 to play, and will finish the regular season at Chavez Ravine with a three-game series against the Rockies - who are 3-12 against them this year.
"We're going to try to clinch as early as we can. I just want to get this thing over with, and winning games is the only way we're going to do it," manager Joe Torre said. "If we don't do it, we don't deserve it. That's what it comes down to. I mean, you're certainly not fearful of anything - but you get what you earn in this game. There are a lot of clubs at this time of year that wish they could control their own destiny, and we're one of them."
The Dodgers, trying to win consecutive division crowns for the first time since 1977-78, reduced their magic number to eight for clinching the West and four for securing a postseason berth for the third time in four years.
They improved the league's best record to 90-60, reaching the 90-victory mark for the first time since winning a division title in 2004 with a 93-69 record under Jim Tracy - who now manages the Rockies. It is Torre's 12th season with 90 or more wins, the others all coming with the Yankees during a 12-year span.
Randy Wolf (11-6) shrugged off a pair of home runs by leadoff hitter Andres Torres, allowing five hits in six-plus innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
The Giants fell 4 1/2 games behind the Rockies in the NL wild-card race. Colorado beat Arizona 5-1 on Sunday.
"Obviously you can tell by the look on my face that I'm not really happy about my outing and the way I let the team down," said Lincecum, who has won 19 games following Giants losses since the start of last season. "Today was definitely a big game. I felt like I could have done a better job out there and put up a better fight. The bullpen did a great job picking me up afterwards. It was just too late and too little."
Lincecum (14-6) gave up five runs, four hits and four walks over four-plus innings and struck out three. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.90 ERA in his last five road starts since beating St. Louis 10-0 on June 29 with a two-hitter. It was his shortest outing since opening day, when he struggled through three innings against Milwaukee on April 7.
"I felt like I was beating myself out there," said Lincecum, who was pulled after walking the first two batters in the fifth.
NL pitchers coming off Cy Young Award seasons were 10-0 with four no-decisions against the Dodgers since Sept. 9, 2003, when Edwin Jackson beat Randy Johnson at Arizona in his major league debut. No reigning Cy Young winner in either league had been charged with a loss at Dodger Stadium since way back on June 5, 1993, when Kevin Gross beat Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves 5-1.
Lincecum was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his six previous career starts against the Dodgers.
"Maybe luck was on our side. We faced him six times and didn't come up with a win, so maybe we were bound to get one," Ethier said. "He obviously is one of the best pitchers in the league. He didn't have his best stuff today and wasn't able to locate a few pitches, but he was out there battling. So we were patient and made him come into the strike zone. And when he did, we took advantage of it."
Ethier put the Dodgers ahead 2-1 in the third, driving a 3-2 pitch to right-center with two out for his 31st homer after a one-out walk to Wolf. The RBIs raised Ethier's total to 101, making him the first Dodger with at least 100 in a season since J.D. Drew in 2006.
Belliard made it 4-1 in the fourth with his two-run opposite-field single inside first base. Rafael Furcal scored the Dodgers' fifth and sixth runs on wild pitches, both with Matt Kemp at the plate.
Torres drove a 1-2 pitch into the pavilion seats in left-center for his first career leadoff homer and the fifth this season by the Giants. The Dodgers' staff had not allowed a leadoff home run in the first inning all season until Friday night's series opener, when Eugenio Velez victimized Vicente Padilla in the Giants' 8-4 victory.
Wolf is 6-0 with a 2.41 over his last eight starts. When he retired Freddy Sanchez to end the third, the left-hander reached the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in his 11-year career and first time since 2003 with Philadelphia. ... The last time the Dodgers were 30 games over .500 was Oct, 2, 1985 (94-64). ... Giants RF Randy Winn extended his career-best errorless streak to 200 games. But he also is in a career-worst homerless drought of 453 at-bats.