Dodgers shut out Rockies to clinch NL West
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 Colorado Rockies 5-0 on Saturday night with a five-run seventh triggered by an RBI single from pinch-hitters Ronnie Belliard and an RBI double by Mark Loretta and six scoreless innings by 21-year-old lefty Clayton Kershaw.
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. 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.
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"We were some of those people who didn't think it came soon enough," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "We were on the brink last Sunday against Pittsburgh."
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.
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 Jim Tracy, who now calls the shots for the Rockies.
Casey Blake led off the seventh against Franklin Morales (3-2) with a single and continued to second when center fielder Carlos Gonzalez misplayed it for only his second error of the season.
James Loney sacrificed Blake to third and Belliard, batting for Orlando Hudson, followed with a sharp grounder off the glove of first baseman Todd Helton. After a walk to Russell Martin, Loretta had an RBI double and Juan Pierre had an RBI single. Matt Kemp added a sacrifice fly and Manny Ramirez capped the rally with an RBI single.