Dodgers re­sults have new mean­ing

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Bill Shaikin

DODGERS 6 SAN DIEGO 3

The sell­out crowd packed Dodger Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day, ready to en­joy a warm evening of lit­tle con­se­quence. The count­down to the post­sea­son is on, and the re­sults of Au­gust are be­com­ing an­a­lyzed in the con­text of what they mean for Oc­to­ber.

The Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als might be the most for­mi­da­ble team stand­ing be­tween the Dodgers and their first World Se­ries since 1988. But the crowd at Na­tion­als Park on Sat­ur­day went silent as Bryce Harper slipped on first base, fell and grabbed his left knee in pain. There was no im­me­di­ate word about how se­ri­ous his in­jury might be, but Harper might be the best player in the Na­tional League.

The Chicago Cubs could stand in the Dodgers’ way too. The Cubs have played slug­gishly all sum­mer, but the de­fend­ing World Se­ries cham­pi­ons fi­nally surged into first place July 26. Yet, barely more than two weeks later, the Cubs no longer are the sole oc­cu­pants of first place in the NL Cen­tral.

They now are tied with the St. Louis Car­di­nals, the win­ners of eight straight games and the pro­pri­etors of the Dodgers’ great­est Octo-

ber night­mares. The Car­di­nals elim­i­nated the Dodgers from the play­offs in 2013 and 2014, re­mem­bered in part for the home runs Matt Adams and Matt Car­pen­ter hit against Clay­ton Ker­shaw, and for Joe Kelly neu­tral­iz­ing Han­ley Ramirez by break­ing his rib with a fast­ball.

At Dodger Sta­dium, the op­po­nents were the San Diego Padres, who are play­ing for Oc­to­ber … of 2019. The pesky Padres were try­ing to be­come the first team to win a se­ries from the Dodgers since the pow­er­ful Na­tion­als, way back in the first week of June.

Not so fast, Padres. Maybe Sun­day.

On Sat­ur­day, the Padres had a two-run lead af­ter five in­nings. The Dodgers scored five runs in the next three in­nings, and that made for a 6-3 vic­tory. And, in an im­pres­sive foot­note, the Dodgers clinched a win­ning record with 46 games to play.

In the sev­enth, Cody Bellinger hit his 34th home run, one shy of Mike Pi­azza’s Dodgers rookie record. Bellinger ranks third in the ma­jors in homers, be­hind Gian­carlo Stan­ton of Mi­ami (41) and Aaron Judge of the New York Yan­kees (35).

In the eighth, Chris Tay­lor hit a home run, his 17th.

Ken­ley Jansen worked a score­less ninth for his third save in four days and 31st this sea­son.

The Padres took a 3-1 lead into the sixth, when they took out starter Jhoulys Chacin, who had dodged trou­ble through the first five in­nings.

The Padres first tried left-han­der Jose Tor­res, who gave up a walk to Yas­mani Gran­dal and a dou­ble to Chase Ut­ley. They tried right-han­der Craig Stam­men and Yasiel Puig forced him to throw nine pitches and worked the walk to load the bases with none out.

Austin Barnes pinch-hit and popped out and Tay­lor struck out, but Corey Sea­ger hit a full-count sin­gle into right field.

Gran­dal and Ut­ley scored, ty­ing the score. The Padres trapped Sea­ger in a run­down be­tween first base and sec­ond, then threw home try­ing to pre­vent Puig from scor­ing. The throw was bad, Puig was safe, and the Dodgers led 4-3.

As the Dodgers pre­pare for Oc­to­ber, one of the story lines will be how the team sets up its pitch­ing for the post­sea­son. If Ker­shaw re­turns as ex­pected, the Dodgers fig­ure to use him, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill and Alex Wood in the play­off ro­ta­tion. But Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda still could earn a spot, and both have pitched well lately.

Ryu en­tered Sat­ur­day’s game with a streak of 15 score­less in­nings in a row, and a ERA of 0.95 since the All-Star break. But he needed needed 108 pitches to last five in­nings against San Diego.

He ex­tended his streak of con­sec­u­tive score­less in­nings to 17, but the Padres scored one run in each of the next three in­nings. Ryu gave up seven hits, in­clud­ing a home run to Wil My­ers, and three walks in five in­nings.

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