LOS ANGELES - The Dodgers’ magic number for clinching the NL West is down to zero — finally.
After a season-worst five-game losing streak, they came through with one game left in the regular season and beat the stubborn Colorado Rockies 5-0 on Saturday night with a five-run seventh triggered by run scoring hits from pinch-hitters Ronnie Belliard and by Mark Loretta and six scoreless innings by 21-year-old lefty Clayton Kershaw.
Los Angeles’ second straight division title wasn’t as easy to secure as it appeared to be last weekend, when it held a six-game lead with seven games remaining.
“It never gets old,” said manager Joe Torre, whose will be going to the postseason for a record-tying 14th straight year with his 13th division title, including 10 with the Yankees and one with Atlanta.
“You do it with different people all the time. It’s what Roy Campanella said. You have to have some little boy inside you to play this game, and we certainly showed that tonight.”
The Rockies, who were 15½ games behind the Dodgers on June 3, entered this three-game series having to sweep to win their first division title in the franchise’s 17-year history.
“Teams go through spells and ours kind of came at the end of the season,” Loretta said. “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.”
The Rockies took the opener 4-3 for their fifth straight win and ninth in 12 games, but will have to settle for their second wild-card berth in three years and a matchup with the defending World Series champion Phillies.
And they may have to start the division series without Jorge De La Rosa, who left the game in the fourth inning because of tightness in his right groin.
“When you’re in, anything can happen. I think a lot of teams proven that,” Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki 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.”
The Dodgers can now concentrate on next Wednesday’s division series opener at Chavez Ravine against the Central Division champion St. Louis Cardinals. It will be a rematch of their 2004 NLDS showdown, when the Cards won and the teams shook hands after the final game. The Dodgers’ manager then was Jim Tracy, who now calls the shots for the Rockies.
“We did put a scare into them. But you know, we’re one of eight teams that have an opportunity to play for a world championship, and I’m sure there’s 22 others that would like to have that opportunity,” Tracy said. “I’ve had the taste of this once before. There’s a sense of accomplishment there. Looking back on it, you wonder how much different it might have been had we not climbed out of the hole we had to climb out of.”
Casey Blake led off the seventh against Franklin Morales (3-2) with a single and continued to second when center fielder Carlos Gonzalez misplayed it for only his second error of the season.
James Loney sacrificed Blake to third and Belliard, batting for Orlando Hudson, followed with a sharp grounder off the glove of first baseman Todd Helton. After a walk to Russell Martin, Loretta had an RBI double and Juan Pierre had an RBI single. Matt Kemp added a sacrifice fly and Manny Ramirez capped the rally with an RBI single.
Morales was charged with all five runs.
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