Dodgers Shot at the Gold Ring Starts Tonight

The Dodgers' pitchers are getting up to speed in a hurry, and the timing is just right with the postseason starting tonight. The pitching staff appeared to be in turmoil in the closing weeks of the season. Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda missed time with injuries, and Chad Billingsley had one start skipped because he was struggling.

  Order now appears to be somewhat restored just in time to face a St. Louis team that fronts its rotation with Cy Young Award candidates Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

Randy Wolf will get the start in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, while Kershaw will go in Game 2. Both are left-handers going up against the Cardinals' right-handed power threat and neither of them has post-season experience.

Wolf has been the steadiest Dodgers pitcher this season. His 11-7 record might not show it, but his 3.23 ERA gives a solid indication of how he has pitched in a career-high 34 starts.

Kershaw, who is coming off a separated right (non-throwing) shoulder had 10 strikeouts Saturday as the Dodgers ended a five-game losing streak and clinched the NL West with a victory over the Rockies.

Kuroda will miss the series with a bulging disk in his neck. Billingsley is expected to pitch in Game 3, while Vicente Padilla likely would go in Game 4 if necessary.

The Dodgers excelled despite a choppy season that saw them losing Manny Ramirez for 50 days, losing Hiroki Kuroda for two months early in the year with a strained muscle and then being struck with a line drive and missing additional weeks of action.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal and catcher Russell Martin got off to slow starts and never quite recovered completely, plus Chad Billingsley opened strong and then flamed out in the second half.

Matt Kemp came into his own and had a dazzling season, Andre Ethier became the king of walkoff wins and Randy Wolf stepped into the "ace" role that would have resulted in 20 wins had it not been for repeated bad luck.

Jonathan Broxton became the accomplished closer that everyone had predicted, the maturation of 21-year-old left-hander Clayton Kershaw and solid play of third baseman Casey Blake and second baseman Orlando Hudson put the team in first place early and they stumbled but never fell out of it.

General Manager Ned Colletti made remarkable moves, acquiring George Sherrill, Vicente Padilla, Jon Garland, Ronnie Belliard and Jim Thome.

Whether the club can overcome the Cardinals and then either the powerful Phillies or the red-hot Rockies, the season has been vastly successful and postseason wins would be the cherry on the cake.

NOTES, QUOTES
--CF Matt Kemp was hit by a pitch and grounded out in his only two plate appearances Sunday, and he ended the season with a .297 average. Kemp was trying to become the first player in Dodgers history with a .300 average, 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 steals. He reached the milestone in the other three categories.

--C Russell Martin stole the 60th base of his career Saturday to set the Dodgers' record for most steals by a catcher. He passed Johnny Roseboro. Martin's 11 steals this year led all major league catchers.

--LHP Randy Wolf was officially announced as the Dodgers' starting pitcher in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals. Wolf was 11-7 this season with a 3.23 ERA, and he pitched a career-high 214.1 innings. It will be his first appearance in the playoffs in his 11-year career.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw was officially announced as the Dodgers' Game 2 starter in the National League Division Series against the Cardinals. In his second start since separating his right (non-throwing) shoulder, Kershaw struck out 10 Rockies on Saturday to help the Dodgers clinch the NL West.

--LF Juan Pierre stole two bases on the final day of the season to finish with 30. It is his ninth consecutive season with 30 or more steals. The second steal of the day came just in time, as Pierre reached base on a fielder's choice in the eighth inning, during the Dodgers' last at-bat of the season. He stole second just before Jason Repko struck out for the final out.

--RHP Vicente Padilla struck out 10 Rockies on Sunday, the second consecutive day a Dodgers starter struck out 10. LHP Clayton Kershaw did it Saturday. It was the second time this season a pair of Dodgers pitchers struck out 10 or more in back-to-back games. RHP Chad Billingsley and Kershaw did it in April.

--C Brad Ausmus took over as manager for the final game of the season. Manager Joe Torre has a tradition of letting a veteran player manage his team if the final game of the season has no impact on the standings. The hitting coach for the day, Jim Thome, delivered a pinch single in the eighth inning, so Ausmus called his own number and entered the game as a pinch runner.

A Look Back at the Chicago Sweep
The Dodgers three-game sweep of Chicago in the 2008 National League Division Series advanced Los Angeles to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1988.

A number of players earned spots on the all-tie NLDS record charts.

The 2008 team also set new NLDS records in slugging (.421) and on-base+slugging (.787); plus was second in on-base percentage (.345).

 2008 NCDS Playoff Statistics

 Score by innings
Chicago	        020 000 112- 6
Los Angeles	250 000 232-20

	        ave  gm  ab   r   h  2b  3b  hr  bi
Berroa	        1.000  3   1   0   1   0   0   0   0
Ramirez	         .500  3  10   5   5   0   0   2   3
Furcal	         .333  3  12   4   4   0   0   0   2
Martin	         .308  3  13   2   4   3   0   1   5
Blake	         .273  3  11   3   3   0   0   0   2  
DeWitt	         .273  3  11   2   3   2   0   0   1
Loney	         .214  3  14   2   3   1   0   1   6
Kemp	         .154  3  13   0   2   2   0   0   1
Ethier	         .100  3  10   2   1   0   0   0   0
Billingsley	 .000  1   3   0   0   0   0   0   0
Kuroda	         .000  1   3   0   0   0   0   0   0
Kent	         .000  1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Lowe	         .000  1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
Pierre	         .000  1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
  Totals	 .264  3 104  20  26   8   0   4  20
  Chicago	 .240  3 104   6  25   8   0   1   6

	        w-l   era  gm  sv   in    h  bb  so
Kuroda	        1-0  0.00   1   0   6.0   6   2   4    
Broxton	        0-0  0.00   3   1   3.1   0   2   5
Maddux	        0-0  0.00   1   0   1.0   1   0   0
Billingsley	1-0  1.35   1   0   6.2   5   1   7
Wade	        0-0  2.45   1   0   3.2   3   0   2
Lowe	        1-0  3.00   1   0   6.0   7   1   6
  Totals	3-0  2.00   3   1  27.0  25   6  24
  Chicago	0-3  5.11   3   0  26.0  26  14  25
    
 DODGERS NATIONAL LEAGUE 
 DIVISION PLAYOFF RECORDS

 Average
.615  Jeff Kent 2006
.500  Manny Ramirez 2008
.500  Eric Karros 1995
.500  Wilson Betemit 2006
.500  Chad Fonville 1995
.386  Steve Garvey 1981
.364  Roberto Kelly 1995
.333  Todd Hollandsworth 1996
.333  Russell Martin 2006
.333  Rafael Furcal 2008

  On-base percentage
.643  Manny Ramirez 2008
.615  Jeff Kent 2006
.600  Betemit, Wilson 2006
.538  Eric Karros 1995
.500  Milton Bradley 2004
.467  Chad Fonville 1995
.417  Rafael Furcal 2008
.385  Roberto Kelly 1995
.368  Steve Garvey 1981
.368  Russell Martin 2004

 Slugging average
1.100  Manny Ramirez 2008
1.083  Eric Karros 1995
1.600  Betemit, Wilson 2006
 .923  Jeff Kent 2006
 .813  Shawn Green 2004
 .789  Steve Garvey 1981
 .786  Jason Werth 2004
 .759  Russell Martin 2004
 .636  Milton Bradley 2004
 .583  Todd Hollandsworth 1996

 On base plus slugging
1.611  Eric Karros 1995
1.600  Manny Ramirez 2008
1.600  Betemit, Wilson 2006
1.583  Jeff Kent 2006
1.157  Steve Garvey 1981
1.136  Milton Bradley 2004
1.116  Russell Martin 2008
1.072  Jason Werth 2004
1.063  Shawn Green 2004
1.000  Chad Fonville 1995

 Hits
8  Jeff Kent 2006
7  Steve Garvey 1981
6  Eric Karros 1995
6  Chad Fonville 1995
5  Manny Ramirez 2008
4  11 Players tied

  Runs
5  Manny Ramirez 2008
4  Steve Garvey 1981
4  Rafael Furcal 2008
3  Eric Karros 1995
3  Shawn Green 2004
3  Jason Werth 2004
3  Wilson Betemit 2006

 Doubles
3  Todd Hollandsworth 1996
3  Russell Martin 2008
2  Raul Mondesi 1996
2  Matt Kemp 2008
2  Blake DeWitt 2008

 Triples
1  Steve Garvey 1981
1  Alex Cora 2004

 Home runs
3  Shawn Green 2004
2  Steve Garvey 1981
2  Eric Karros 1995
2  Jason Werth 2004
2  Manny Ramirez 2008

 Runs batted in
6  James Loney 2008
5  Russell Martin 2008
4  Steve Garvey 1981
4  Eric Karros 1995
3  Shawn Green 2004
3  Jason Werth 2004
3  Manny Ramirez 2008

 Stolen bases
2-0 Milton Bradley 2004
2-0  Rafael Furcal 2008
1-0  Steve Garvey 1981
1-0  Davey Lopes 1981

  PITCHING

 Wins
1-0  Jerry Reuss 1981
1-0  Fernando Valenzuela 1981
1-0  Burt Hooton 1981
1-0  Jose Lima 2004
1-0  Chad Billingham 2008
1-0  Hiroki Kuroda 2008
1-0  Derek Lowe 2008

 Earned run average
 (2 games and 3+ innings)
0.00  Jerry Reuss 1981
0.00  Pedro Astacio 1995
0.00  Eric Gagne 2004
0.00  Takaski Saito 2006
0.00  Mark Hendrickson 2006
0.00  Giovanni Carrara 2004
1.06  Fernando Valenzuela 1981
1.35  Chad Billingsley 2008
2.45  Cory Wade 2008
2.70  Pedro Osuna 2.70

 Innings
18   Jerry Reuss 1981
17   Fernando Valenzuela 1981
 9   Jose Lima 2004
 8   Ramon Martinez 1996
 7   Burt Hooton 1981
 7   Ismael Valdez 1995
 6.2 Chad Billingsley 2008
 6.1 Ismael Valdez 1996

 Strikeouts
10  Fernando Valenzuela 1981
 9  Jose Lima 2004
 7  Burt Hooton 1981
 7  Jerry Reuss 1981
 7  Chad Billingsley 2008
 6  Ismael Valdez 1995
 6  Hideo Nomo 1995
 6  Ramon Martinez 1996
 6  Derek Lowe 2006
 6  Derek Lowe 2008

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