LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers may get a chance over the next 11/2 weeks to find out if champagne stains come out of gray uniforms easier than from white ones.
Andre Ethier hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Tim Lincecum, Ronnie Belliard added a two-run single against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, and the National League West leaders beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-2, on Sunday to go 30 games over .500 for the first time in almost 24 years.
The Dodgers, who clinched the division title at home last season with three games to spare, now embark on a nine-game trip through Washington, Pittsburgh and San Diego. They are five games ahead of second-place Colorado with 12 to play, and will finish the season at Chavez Ravine with a three-game series against the Rockies – against whom they are 12-3 this year.
“We’re going to try to clinch as early as we can. I just want to get this thing over with, and winning games is the only way we’re going to do it,” manager Joe Torre said. “If we don’t do it, we don’t deserve it. That’s what it comes down to. I mean, you’re certainly 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 the league’s 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.
The Giants fell 41/2 games behind the Rockies in the NL wild-card race.
“Obviously you can tell by the look on my face that I’m not really happy about my outing and the way I let the team down,” said Lincecum, who has won 19 games after Giants losses since the start of last season. “Today was definitely a big game. I felt like I could have done a better job out there and put up a better fight.”
Lincecum (14-6) 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.