The Los Angeles Dodgers can start looking toward the postseason.
Having clinched the NL West title, the Dodgers will face San Diego’s Jake Peavy as they look to sweep the Padres at home Thursday night.
Los Angeles (83-75) clinched the division earlier in the day when Arizona lost 12-3 at St. Louis. Instead of having to beat Peavy - who has dominated them throughout his career - for the West crown, the Dodgers can relax somewhat as they go for their fifth consecutive victory over San Diego (61-97).
First-year manager Joe Torre’s team has secured its first NL West title since 2004.
In Wednesday’s 12-4 rout of the Padres, Nomar Garciaparra went 2-for-3 and homered for the second straight game while Manny Ramirez hit his 17th homer for the Dodgers, who have won 18 of their last 23 games and scored 32 runs in their last four contests.
The Dodgers - a major league-best 16-5 in September - were 65-70 and trailed the Diamondbacks by 4 1/2 games before beginning their turnaround Aug. 30 in Arizona.
That was due in large part to Ramirez, who’s batting .398 with 53 RBIs in 50 games since being acquired from Boston.
Had the Diamondbacks won Thursday, the Dodgers would be trying to clinch against a pitcher who has had little trouble with Los Angeles. Peavy (9-11, 2.77 ERA) is 12-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 21 starts versus the Dodgers, and hasn’t lost to them since 2003.
The right-hander, 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA against Los Angeles in 2008, missed his scheduled start Friday to be with his wife after the premature birth of their third son. He’s dropped his last three decisions after allowing five runs and 11 hits in eight innings of a 5-2 defeat to San Francisco on Sept. 12.
Former Padre Greg Maddux (7-13, 4.31) is scheduled to start for Los Angeles after he allowed seven runs in five innings of a 7-1 loss to San Francisco on Friday.
“They got me,” said Maddux, who’s 1-5 with a 4.97 ERA over his last seven starts - six of which have come since being traded from San Diego back to Los Angeles on Aug. 19. “I didn’t help us stay in the game.”
The 42-year-old right-hander is 25-16 with a 3.06 ERA in 46 career starts versus the Padres and 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in two against them this month.
Brian Giles had two hits with an RBI on Wednesday for the Padres, who are in danger of losing 100 games for the first time since going 61-101 in 1993. Giles is batting .368 (14-for-38) against Maddux.