Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Dodgers are assured of their worst finish in 12 seasons.

Alex Cintron drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, Dustin Nippert allowed one hit over five innings for his first major league victory and the Arizona Diamondbacks spoiled Los Angeles’ home finale with a 3-2 victory Thursday night.

“It’s hard to believe that we won the division last year and this year we’re out of it,” losing pitcher Odalis Perez said. “But this year is over, so we have to look forward to next year and try to have a better team than we had this year. It’s frustrating to know you have three games left and then you go home.”

The Diamondbacks won the season series 13-5 after going 3-16 against Los Angeles last season. They were 8-1 at Dodger Stadium, becoming the first team to beat the Dodgers eight times in Los Angeles in one year.

“I think every game we played these guys in the first two series came down to the last pitch,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “But they’ve had a rash of injuries. Anytime you lose your closer and some of your best players, it’s tough, but they continually battled. We’re happy about the fact that we won some games against them. If we didn’t, our record wouldn’t be as good as it is right now.”

The Dodgers lost as many as seven home games to one team in the a season 11 times, but only twice over the last 35 years. The San Diego Padres held a 7-3 edge at Chavez Ravine in 2002.

“To come in here and beat those guys on their home field, it’s very gratifying,” Quinton McCracken said. “Anytime you can play well against such a fabled organization, it’s a good feeling—especially when it’s been a down year for both teams.”

Arizona’s eighth straight win over Los Angeles assured the Dodgers of finishing lower than third in the NL West for the first time since 1993. The Diamondbacks lead the Dodgers by five games with three to play.

“After experiencing as a manager what we went through a year ago, seeing some of those champagne parties that have taken place over the last couple of days has been pretty painful—to the point where I turn the television set off,” said manager Jim Tracy, who guided the team to 93 victories last season. “I don’t want to watch it because I’ve experienced it firsthand and I know what it feels like. So now, it’s not a whole lot of fun to watch.”

The crowd of 45,053 on Jeff Kent bobblehead night pushed the Dodgers’ home attendance to 3,603,646, the second-highest total in franchise history and just 5,235 shy of their 1982 total. Despite the team’s worst overall record in 13 years, this is the first season since 1983 that every home game drew at least 30,000.

The injury-ravaged Dodgers, who last season won their first division title in 16 years, are limping to the finish line in more ways than one with a 70-89 record. They finished their home schedule 40-41, only their fifth losing record at home since moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. The worst was 37-44 (1992 and 1999).

Nippert (1-0) struck out six and walked five in his third big league start, allowing one run on a fourth-inning RBI single by Jayson Werth. The 24-year-old right-hander was promoted this month from Double-A Tennessee, where he led the Southern League with a 2.38 ERA. He didn’t make his season debut until May 29, after recovering from Tommy John surgery on his elbow in July 2004.

Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for his 14th save, allowing Dioner Navarro’s third homer.

Perez, making his second start since Aug. 17 and limited to four innings before the game by Tracy, made the most of his 2005 finale by allowing one hit and retiring 12 of his 14 batters before rookie Franquelis Osoria (0-3) took over.

After Royce Clayton opened the game with a single, the Diamondbacks did not get another hit until McCracken—pinch-hitting for Nippert—singled leading off the sixth. It was the Diamondbacks’ major league-leading 62nd pinch-hit and the 18th for McCracken, one shy of the club record set by Carlos Baerga in 2003.

One out later, Hong-Chih Kuo relieved and McCracken advanced to second on a balk. He scored on a double by Luis Gonzalez, who came home on Cintron’s sacrifice fly, giving Arizona a 2-1 lead. Luis Terrero was hit by rookie Jonathan Broxton’s pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth, forcing home Arizona’s third run.

Notes

The Diamondbacks had never won more than six games in an opponent’s ballpark. They were 6-3 at San Francisco in 2001. … For the first season since 1999, no Dodgers pitcher hit a home run at Chavez Ravine.

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