San Francisco (90-71) at Los Angeles (93-68)

Cloudy Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 62° F
  • Game info: 4:10 pm EDT Sun Oct 3, 2004
  • TV: FSBA, KCOP
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 1996. The San Francisco Giants will need some help to earn their third straight bid to the postseason.

One day after a memorable showdown at Dodger Stadium, the bitter NL West rivals will have very different agendas when they wrap up their regular season-ending series.

The Giants were three outs away from cutting the first-place Dodgers’ lead to one game Saturday afternoon, but Los Angeles staged a dramatic ninth-inning rally to clinch its first division title since 1995, and its first playoff berth in eight years.

“We do it the Hollywood way—that’s for sure,” closer Eric Gagne said after watching Steve Finley cap a seven-run, ninth-inning outburst with a walk-off grand slam.

“It’s amazing.”

The comeback victory was the Dodgers’ NL-leading 53rd of the season, setting a franchise record. The old mark was 52 by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Thirteen of the team’s last 14 wins have been comeback victories, and they’ve won 26 in the final at-bat.

The 39-year-old Finley, acquired by the Dodgers from last-place Arizona at the trade deadline, was only too happy to come to the plate in such a spot.

“I was dreaming about it, and it happened,” Finley said. “I wanted it. I knew I was going to get it done. When I walked to the plate, I knew the game was over. I even had a smile on my face, if I remember.”

The stunning loss left the Giants in a precarious position.

Its division hopes dashed, the only way San Francisco can make it back to the postseason is if it beats the Dodgers on Sunday, and wild card-leading Houston loses its home game to Colorado. The Giants would then have to beat the Astros in a one-game playoff Monday in San Francisco.

Houston beat Colorado 9-3 on Saturday night for a one-game lead over the Giants.

“We lost—we didn’t win,” said San Francisco’s Marquis Grissom. “We played a good game, we gave it up at the end. It doesn’t matter how we lost. We’ve got to come out and win tomorrow.”

At least San Francisco can take comfort in knowing its best pitcher will be on the hill Sunday. Right-hander Jason Schmidt will take the ball five days after getting his team-leading 17th win Tuesday at San Diego.

Schmidt has done his best pitching on the road this year, going 8-1 with a 3.05 ERA in 13 starts.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Schmidt LAD vs. K. Ishii NYM
18-7 Record 13-8
3.20 ERA 4.71
251 K 99
77 BB 98
1.08 WHIP 1.47