Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 1
LOS ANGELES (AP)—If this were July, Nomar Garciaparra probably wouldn’t be playing because of a sore left quadriceps that’s bothered him for over a week.
Fortunately for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’s helping them battle for a playoff berth.
Garciaparra provided the heroics for the second time in a span of seven games, hitting a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Sunday to give the Dodgers a much-needed 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I tried to get a good pitch, was able to get one. I’m just glad and thankful I was able to do this,” said Garciaparra, who hit a 2-1 pitch from Luis Vizcaino over the left-center field fence for his 19th homer.
By winning their regular-season home finale, the Dodgers remained 1 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading San Diego Padres and a half-game back of Philadelphia in the wild-card race. The Padres beat Pittsburgh 2-1 and the Phillies topped Florida 10-7 earlier Sunday.
The Dodgers have six games left; the Padres and Phillies each have seven remaining.
Garciaparra came out of the dugout a few minutes after his latest homer to acknowledge the cheering fans.
Just last Monday night, Garciaparra hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning to give Los Angeles an 11-10 victory over San Diego after the Dodgers matched a major league record by hitting four consecutive homers in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game.
“He could barely run,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “With what he’s giving us out there in his condition is just outstanding.”
Garciaparra smiled when asked before the game how he felt.
“Have you seen me run out there?” he replied. “You’ve just got to go out there and do what you can.”
Marlon Anderson started the winning rally by hitting a single off Vizcaino (4-6), and Russell Martin sacrificed. Oscar Robles grounded out, moving Anderson to third, and Rafael Furcal was walked intentionally. Kenny Lofton drew another walk to load the bases for Garciaparra.
“What really set that up were the at-bats before me,” Garciaparra said. “Kenny’s at-bat was unbelievable.”
Arizona manager Bob Melvin agreed and gave credit to Garciaparra, as well.
“Lofton had a great at-bat, and then Garciaparra—you have to tip your hat to Nomar, the year he’s having, a big hit in that situation on a slider against a very tough right-hander,” Melvin said.
Takashi Saito (6-2), the third Dodgers pitcher, pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to earn the victory.
Hong-Chih Kuo was outstanding in his fourth big league start, allowing four hits in a career-high seven innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. But he left after throwing 100 pitches with nothing to show for it.
“He didn’t leave anything over the middle of the plate—nothing,” said Arizona’s Conor Jackson, who had two of his team’s five hits. “Command, I guess, has been his problem in the past. But not today.”
Arizona’s Livan Hernandez also went seven innings, allowing five hits and one run. He walked five, struck out two and threw 118 pitches.
Arizona scored an unearned run in the third for a 1-0 lead. Stephen Drew walked, took second when third baseman Wilson Betemit mishandled Chris Snyder’s grounder for an error, and scored on Carlos Quentin’s two-out double.
Los Angeles tied it in the fifth, but blew a chance for more. Kuo doubled with one out for his first major league hit, took third on Furcal’s single and scored on a single by Lofton. Garciaparra walked to load the bases, but Jeff Kent fouled out and J.D. Drew grounded out.
The final regular-season game this year at Dodger Stadium was played before a crowd of 49,822, lifting the total for the year to a franchise-record 3,758,545—the sixth-highest in NL history. That surpassed the previous Dodgers high of 3,608,881 in 1982, but that figure was the turnstile count while this year’s total was tickets sold. … Diamondbacks 2B Orlando Hudson left the team Sunday morning to attend to family issues, according to manager Bob Melvin. … After taking Monday off, the Dodgers play three games at Colorado and three at San Francisco. … Arizona 3B Chad Tracy didn’t start because of what Melvin called a mild case tendinitis in his left knee, an ailment that has plagued him all season. … The Dodgers went 49-32 at home this season, matching their highest win total at Dodger Stadium since 1991, when they went 54-27.