The Los Angeles Dodgers ended a week of drama by wrapping up a second straight division title and the NL’s best record.
They may enjoy a brief break in Sunday’s season finale against the visiting Colorado Rockies, who are also headed to the postseason.
Los Angeles (94-67) allowed the Rockies—who were 15 1/2 games back on June 3—to creep within one game Friday night, but the Dodgers’ 5-0 win Saturday clinched their fourth NL West crown in six years.
It was also their second in a row under manager Joe Torre and first back-to-back titles since 1977-78.
“It never gets old,” said Torre, who will tie Atlanta’s Bobby Cox with his 14th consecutive postseason appearance.
After batting .155 during a season-high five-game losing streak, the Dodgers broke through in the seventh inning Saturday by scoring all their runs on five hits.
“Teams go through spells and ours kind of came at the end of the season,” said Loretta, whose run-scoring double made it 2-0. “We had a week or so where we were having some tough luck and weren’t too good.
“We were looking forward to this night - and maybe looking too far ahead. So to come through and kind of exhale a little bit going into the playoffs, I think we’re in good shape.”
Some key players could get the day off Sunday as the Dodgers prepare to welcome St. Louis for Wednesday’s division series opener. Wild-card winning Colorado (92-69) will begin the postseason in Philadelphia that same day.
Vicente Padilla(notes) (3-0, 3.41 ERA) is scheduled to start for Los Angeles and has a final chance to convince Torre to put him in the postseason rotation over Chad Billingsley(notes), who was bumped from Sunday’s start.
While Billingsley has struggled in the second half, Padilla has shined since being waived by Texas and signed by the Dodgers on Aug. 19. After being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 27, the right-hander gave up two runs in five innings of a 3-2 win over Colorado.
The Rockies were denied their first division title in the franchise’s 17-year history and the chance to complete the largest comeback in major league history Saturday. Colorado, however, can take solace in one of the most remarkable turnarounds in one season.
After starting 18-28, the Rockies are 74-41 since former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy took over for the fired Clint Hurdle.
“When you’re in, anything can happen. I think a lot of teams proven that,” shortstop Troy Tulowitzki(notes) said. “We proved that in ’07 as a wild-card team when we got to the World Series. You just want to get in there.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to win the division and it would be cool to say we won the West. But we’re still in.”
Marquis has struggled down the stretch by going 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA, however, he has excelled against the Dodgers and in their ballpark.
The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA in eight starts against Los Angeles since Sept. 4, 2004, and 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five lifetime outings at Dodger Stadium.
Among those was a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory on June 30.