SAN FRANCISCO - The deep, slugging Los Angeles Dodgers took a far more challenging road to their sixth straight playoff berth. Despite it all, they still believe they’re the team to beat for a World Series title.
A surprising 16-26 start and injuries to some of their biggest stars, including a pair of stints on the disabled list for ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, left the Dodgers in a hole and needing to win in the final weekend to claim baseball’s final postseason berth.
Kershaw and the Dodgers gave themselves a chance to capture another NL West crown and, they hope, another shot at that elusive championship, getting a go-ahead triple from Manny Machado in the eighth inning Saturday and beating the San Francisco Giants 10-6.
“It hasn’t been easy, I guess, this year, we’ve kind of been in a dogfight the whole year as far as with the Diamondbacks and the Rockies,” Kershaw said between dousings of champagne in the clubhouse. “This game in particular just kind of showed the team that we have. It’s never good when I’m a better hitter than I am a pitcher. That’s what it was today. For these guys to pick me up like they did today — I don’t know, I think we had 18 hits or something — it’s just really special to be a part of. The celebration today is a little bit more subdued, and we want it that way.”
The Dodgers, who haven’t won the World Series since 1988 and lost in Game 7 to Houston last year, assured themselves at least a spot in the wild-card game. They joined Colorado, Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee in the NL playoff field.
Once the champagne had been popped, sprayed in triumph and consumed, many of the Dodgers were headed back to their hotel to watch the Rockies, the team they’re still competing against for the NL West title.
“We went through a lot of ups and downs, but we’ve still got a chance to win the division,” veteran Matt Kemp said. “I think everybody’s going to sit there and watch the game tonight and see what happens and try to take care of business tomorrow.”
Kenta Maeda pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Dodgers in the win.
Kershaw allowed eight hits and five runs — his most in 44 starts against the Giants — over five innings and had a two-run single in the fourth.
Nationals 12, Rockies 2
In Denver, the Rockies dropped into a tie with Los Angeles for the NL West lead with only one game left after being routed by Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto and Washington.
If the Dodgers and Colorado finish tied, there will be a one-game tiebreaker for the West title Monday at Dodger Stadium. The loser will become a wild card.
Brewers 6, Tigers 5
In Milwaukee, the Brewers moved into a tie with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central with one game remaining in the regular season, getting two homers from MVP candidate Christian Yelich.
Cardinals 2, Cubs 1
In Chicago, the Cubs wasted a solid performance by Cole Hamels, sending the NL Central race to the final day of the season.
In Other Games
Reds 3, Pirates 0
Phillies 3, Braves 0
Diamondbacks 5, Padres 4
Mets 1, Marlins 0 (13)
Yankees 8, Red Sox 5
Astros 4, Orioles 3, (1st)
Astros 5, Orioles 2, (2nd)
Rays 4, Blue Jays 3
Twins 8, White Sox 3
Royals 9, Indians 4
Athletics 5, Angels 2
Mariners 4, Rangers 1