After taking today off, the Dodgers hit the road on a nine-day road swing that finds them playing four in Washington, three in Pittsburgh and a pair in San Diego. They finish with three in Dodger Stadium with the Rockies.
"We're going to try to clinch as early as we can. I just want to get this thing over with," manager Joe Torre said. "If we don't do it, we don't deserve it. That's what it comes down to. You're not fearful of anything but you get what you earn in this game. There are a lot of clubs at this time of year that wish they could control their own destiny, and we're one of them."
The Dodgers, trying to win consecutive division crowns for the first time since 1977-78, reduced their magic number to eight for clinching the West and four for securing a postseason berth for the third time in four years.
They improved their National League-best record to 90-60, reaching the 90-victory mark for the first time since winning a division title in 2004 with a 93-69 record under Jim Tracy, who now manages the Rockies.
It is Torre's 12th season with 90 or more wins, the others all coming with the Yankees during a 12-year span.
Randy Wolf, who has stepped up his game after Chad Billingsley was somehow struck winless and Clayton Kershaw ran into an outfield wall he didn't know was there, keeping both out of the rotation.
Wolf, now 11-6, gave up a pair of home runs by leadoff hitter Andre Torres and nothing more, finishing six innings and allowed five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. The performance was made more meaningful by the small strike zone the home play umpire was working with.
Both Wolf and Lincecum seemed irritated at times with pitches that were called out of the zone.
The Dodgrs' win may have been the death knell for the Giants who fell 4 1/2 games behind the Rockies in the NL wild-card race after Colorado beat Arizona 5-1.
Lincecum, who came into the game with aa 14-5 record and a league-leading 244 strikeouts, has won 19 games following Giants losses since the start of last season. "Today I felt like I could have done a better job out there and put up a better fight. The bullpen did a great job picking me up afterwards. It was just too late and too little."
Lincecum gave up five runs, tying his season high, four hits and four walks over four-plus innings and struck out three. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.90 ERA in his last five road starts since beating St. Louis 10-0 on June 29 with a two-hitter. It was his shortest outing since opening day, when he struggled through three innings against Milwaukee on April 7.
He didn't allow a hit in the first or second inning, then lost something off his control and fell behind 12 of the next 13 batters before leaving in the fifth after opening the inning by walking Rafael Furcal and Ethier.
The Associated Press noted that NL pitchers coming off Cy Young Award seasons were 10-0 with four no-decisions against the Dodgers since Sept. 9, 2003, when Edwin Jackson beat Randy Johnson at Arizona in his major league debut. No reigning Cy Young winner in either league had been charged with a loss at Dodger Stadium since way back on June 5, 1993, when Kevin Gross beat Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves 5-1.
Making his sixth start against Los Angeles, Lincecum was 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA.
Ethier's home run to right-center with two out in the third was his 31st homer and his 101st RBI, making him the first Dodger with at least 100 in a season since JD Drew in 2006.
Belliard, again filling in for slumping Orlando Hudson, singled inside the first base bag for the second two-runs in the fourth inning.
Furcal and Ethier walked in the fifth and Brandon Meadows took over for the Giants and his wild pitch allowed the fifth run.
Furcal tripled, his fifth of the season, in the seventh and scored on another wild pitch.
Wolf allowed solo home runs in the first and sixth, then gave up an opening single in the seventh and was replaced by Hong-Chih Kuo who retired the Giants in order as did George Sherrill in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton in the ninth.
Wolf told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, "We knew after losing the first game, it would be tough to take two of three because Brad Penny beat us last week and Lincecum was going today," said Wolf. "But Lincecum had an off-day today and we took advantage of the opportunity. It's really big to beat a guy of Lincecum's stature."
Wolf has has had a remarkable season. He's only 11-6 but has lost eight wins after leaving the game and he has 15 no-decisions. The Dodgers are 21-11 in his starts and he has worked 200 innings for the first time since 2003. He's 6-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his last eight starts, all quality starts.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 3.86 ERA) will open the Washington series. In his last start he allowed only one run on six hits in six innings. This will be Kuroda's first career start against the Nationals.
Veteran RHP Livan Hernandez (8-11, 5.22 ERA) has has four quality starts for Washington and gave up two runs in six innings against the Phillies on Wednesday.
Score by Innings San Francisco 100001 000-2 Los Angeles 002 210 10x-6 Dodgers ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 3 2 1 0 .257 Ethier rf 3 1 1 2 .283 Ramirez lf 2 0 0 0 .301 Pierre lf 0 0 0 0 .314 Kemp cf 4 1 1 0 .307 Loney 1b 2 1 1 0 .283 Blake 3b 3 0 0 0 .278 Billiard 2b 4 0 1 2 .318 Martin c 4 0 0 0 .255 Wolf p 2 1 0 0 .169 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .000 Sherrill p 0 0 0 0 .000 Thome ph 1 0 0 0 .246 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 ---------------------------------- Totals 28 6 5 4 San Francisco 30 2 5 2 3B- Furcal (5). HR- Ethier (31). RBI- Ethier 2 (101), Billiard 2 (36). S- Blake. LOB- Los Angles 6, San Francisco 3. SB- Furcal (9). DP- Billiard, Furcal and Loney; Blake, Billiard and Loney. Dodgers in h r-er bb so era Wolf (11-6) 6.0 5 2-2 2 3 3.24 Kuo 1.0 0 0-0 0 0 2.36 Sherrill 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 0.42 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 2.39 T- 2:38. Att- 53,233.Kershaw Ready
Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session during the eighth inning of the final game of the Giants series and Torre said he will pitch out of the bullpen Wednesday in Washington and make his first start since separating his right (non-throwing) shoulder next weekend in Pittsburgh.
Torre wants Kershaw to start two games before the regular season is over.
Chad Billingsley is scheduled to return to the rotation after missing a start. Billingsley also had a bullpen session Sunday.
After a travel day today, Kuroda, Billingsley and Padilla will start the upcoming games in Washington. Likely starters in Pittsburgh are Garland, Wolf, Kershaw and Kuroda.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Matt Kemp/s fourth inning single extended his hitting steak to 12 games, and it was his first hit off Tim Lincecum after going 0-for-10. He is batting .300 (15-for-50) with three doubles, two homers, and seven RBI during the 12-game streak. ...The Dodgers won the season series against San Francisco 11-7. ...Los Angeles has slugged at least one home run in 10 straight game. The streak is the club's longest of the season and its longest stretch since another 10-game run from Aug. 23-Sept. 3, 2006. ...Ethier also is the first Dodgers player to hit 30 home runs and have 100 RBI in a season since Adrian Beltre (48 homers, 121 RBIs) in 2004. ...The last time the Dodgers were 30 games over .500 was Oct, 2, 1985 (94-64). ...Juan Pierre is hitting .667 over his last 21 pinch-hitting opportunities and his 12 hits tops the National League since the All-Star break.