By the time the Los Angeles Dodgers take the field Saturday, they may already know if they’re headed to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
After using a rare late-inning rally to win its fifth in a row, Los Angeles meets the San Francisco Giants on Saturday in the second game of the final regular-season series between the NL West rivals.
The Dodgers (86-74) won their fifth in row Friday, rallying for a 4-3 victory in the series opener. Trailing 3-0 going into the seventh inning, J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer cutting the deficit to one.
The Dodgers had been a major league-worst 1-57 when trailing after seven innings before Friday.
“Tonight definitely was a big win,” Drew said. “We could have stayed right where we were with San Diego and lost a game to the Phillies.”
Los Angeles’ win, combined with San Diego’s 3-1 loss to Arizona, left the Dodgers and Padres tied atop the NL West with two games remaining. Each team can reach the postseason with a win or a Philadelphia loss.
The Phillies are slated to play Florida starting at 1:20 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
Besides being one of the best pitchers in major league history, Greg Maddux (14-14, 4.26 ERA) can keep up a remarkable run of consistency when he starts for the Dodgers.
With a victory, Maddux will reach 15 wins for the 18th time in 19 seasons. The only time he failed to reach that mark was last year, when he went 13-15 for the Chicago Cubs.
Acquired from the Cubs on July 31 for Cesar Izturis, Maddux is 5-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts since the trade. He failed to record a decision in the Dodgers’ 1-0, 10-inning win over San Francisco on Aug. 13, but is 25-14 with a 2.97 ERA in his career against the Giants.
Maddux earned his first road win in four starts in his last appearance. In an 11-4 win over Colorado on Tuesday, the four-time Cy Young award winner gave up three runs and seven hits over six innings.
“Here, you just battle,” said Maddux, who is going on three days’ rest after making 76 pitches. “You still wake up panicking and hope you get through six. You just try to keep going. I’ve seen a lot of big innings in this park. No lead is safe here.”
Maddux is 22-7 with a 2.55 ERA and seven complete games in 39 career starts on three days’ rest or less.
The Dodgers may be without oft-injured first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who came out of Friday’s game after injuring his left side on a swinging strikeout in the eighth. He was scheduled to be re-evaluated Saturday.
“He was in a lot of pain in the dugout,” manager Grady Little said. “That’s about as much grimace as I’ve seen in his face.”
If Garciaparra is unable to go, rookie James Loney may get the start. On Thursday, Loney started in place of Garciaparra, homered twice and tied a 56-year-old Dodgers record with nine RBIs in a 19-11 win over Colorado.
Barry Bonds, playing in what may be his final series in a Giants uniform, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Friday. He is not expected to start this contest, but should be in left field for the series finale.
Bonds’ contract expires at the end of the season, and his agent said the seven-time NL MVP intends to play another year. Bonds is 22 homers shy of moving past Hank Aaron’s record 755.
After winning five straight decisions in dominating fashion, Matt Cain (13-11, 4.09) will try to avoid a third consecutive loss for San Francisco (76-83).
Over six starts from Aug. 17-Sept. 14, Cain was 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA. That included a pair of one-hit outings and a two-hit effort. But in losses to sub-.500 Colorado and Milwaukee, the right-hander has allowed a total of 12 runs and 16 hits over 12 1-3 innings.
In a 10-8 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, capping a four-game sweep by the Brewers, Cain gave up five runs and five hits over seven innings.
“I was trying to put up zeros,” he said. “I wasn’t worried about our losing streak—I still had to get guys.”
Cain is 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA in two starts this season against Los Angeles.