SEATTLE (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the NL West title for the 10th time in 11 seasons with a 6-2 win in 11 innings over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
Max Muncy’s single off Gabe Speier (2-2) scored Mookie Betts from second base with one out in the top of the 11th to give the Dodgers the lead. Chris Taylor and Kike Hernández followed with two-run singles off Isaiah Campbell, and the numerous fans in Dodger blue roared their approval as Seattle fans headed for the exits.
Evan Phillips (2-4) pitched the 10th inning and Joe Kelly got the final three outs. Afterward, the Dodgers held a brief celebration on the field filled with hugs, and division-title shirts and hats.
There was debate before the season if San Diego might be ready to take over the NL West from the Dodgers after its heavy offseason spending. But Los Angeles again proved the class of the division and wrapped up the crown with a couple of weeks remaining in the regular season.
“It’s exciting. You look back, beginning of the year, middle of the year to see we have this opportunity tonight it’s a credit to a lot of people,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game.
While the Dodgers will spend the final two weeks of the regular season solidifying their playoff position, the Mariners stumbled for a second straight night with the chance to make up ground in the AL West race.
Both Texas and Houston lost earlier Saturday, but the Mariners couldn’t get a key hit with a chance to take the lead in the eighth inning. Seattle remained 1½ games back of first-place Houston and one game behind the Rangers.
After nine scoreless innings of terrific pitching on both sides, each team got a key at-bat from a pinch-hitter in the 10th. Kolten Wong’s sacrifice fly gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, but Mike Ford answered with a two-out RBI single to score Josh Rojas and tie the game at 1.
Seattle had a chance to win it in the 10th, but Teoscar Hernández grounded into a force play with the bases loaded to end the threat. The Mariners also had runners at first and second and no outs in the eighth but J.P. Crawford, Julio Rodríguez and Hernández all struck out.
Clayton Kershaw pitched four innings in his return to the mound for the Dodgers following an extended rest between starts. Kershaw had not started since Sept. 5 and the hope was the extra rest would help dial in some of the control issues that emerged in his last start.
It started shaky, with Kershaw walking two of his first three batters. But he quickly settled in and allowed just two hits and struck out four, throwing 55 pitches before being lifted for Emmet Sheehan.
Sheehan was terrific in his relief stint, striking out five and allowing only one baserunner in three innings of work. Ty France singled with two outs in the seventh, snapping a string of 12 straight retired by the combo of Kershaw and Sheehan.
Seattle starter Bryce Miller was the equal of the Kershaw and Sheehan combo, shutting down the Dodgers into the sixth inning while facing them for the first time in his career. The rookie scattered four hits and struck out four, and the only batter to reach third base against him was Jason Heyward in the fifth inning. Rodríguez ended that inning with a terrific catch on Betts’ line drive.
Heyward had three doubles for the third time in his career.
Hernández extended his on-base streak to 30 games with a walk in the first inning. It’s the longest active on-base streak in the majors and the longest this season by a Mariners player.
Dodgers: Los Angeles had not finalized its pitching plans for Sunday, but RHP Gavin Stone was expected to work the bulk of the game either as the starter or following an opener.
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert (13-5, 3.62 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the first time in his career. Gilbert allowed three runs over seven innings in his last start against the Angels. Gilbert has a 2.98 ERA over his past 13 starts.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb