After clinching a second straight playoff berth, the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for more.
They can win another NL West title Sunday when they continue a four-game road set against the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
Los Angeles (93-62) won 8-4 on Saturday to give manager Joe Torre his 14th straight postseason berth. Torre, who reached the playoffs all 12 seasons he managed the Yankees before joining the Dodgers last year, tied Braves manager Bobby Cox’s record of reaching the playoffs 14 seasons in a row set from 1991-2005.
“I don’t know who I caught, but it’s satisfying … to be able to go to the postseason the first two years here,” Torre said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I don’t know if anybody could dream of doing stuff like this, much less doing it.”
The Dodgers can clinch the West with a victory Sunday or a loss by Colorado. It would mark the first consecutive division crowns since 1977 and 1978 for the Dodgers, who have been in first place for 167 straight days.
With that in mind, Los Angeles didn’t celebrate on the field Saturday. The Dodgers drank a few toasts in their clubhouse, but there were no champagne showers or spraying bottles.
“To me a celebration is saying we reached what we want to reach, but we knew we had to recognize getting to the postseason,” Torre said. “We didn’t want to let it go by without acknowledging it, celebrating so to speak, but a lot more work to do.”
Ronnie Belliard(notes) had three hits and scored three runs and pinch-hitter Jim Thome(notes) had a two-run single in a five-run rally in the eighth inning Saturday. Manny Ramirez(notes) went 2 for 2 with two runs scored.
Los Angeles improved to 4-1 in the season series against Pittsburgh (57-96). The Pirates have lost 24 of 28 as their 17th straight losing season nears an end.
Clayton Kershaw(notes) (8-8, 2.85 ERA) will make his first start for the Dodgers since Sept. 4. Three days after that outing, he separated his non-throwing shoulder when he ran into an auxiliary scoreboard in Dodger Stadium while shagging fly balls in batting practice.
Kershaw returned to the mound in Tuesday’s 14-2 win over Washington, striking out four in two innings of relief. Now, he’ll try to end his long winless streak while auditioning for a postseason rotation spot. Kershaw is 0-3 with a 2.75 ERA in his last nine starts, receiving a total of 10 runs of support in those games.
The left-hander allowed one run over five innings in his only career start against Pittsburgh on Sept. 18, 2008, a game the Dodgers won 4-3 in 12 innings.
The Pirates have lost all four games started by rookie Daniel McCutchen(notes) (0-2, 5.25), who will face the Dodgers for the second time. He gave up four runs over a season-low five innings in a 6-2 loss Sept. 14.
The right-hander, who turned 27 on Saturday, last pitched Monday against San Diego, yielding three runs over six innings of an 11-6, 11-inning loss.
McCutchen was called up Aug. 31 from Triple-A Indianapolis, where he went 13-6 with a 3.47 ERA in 24 starts.