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Kershaw deals, Dodgers roll to verge of title

September 24, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers trimmed their magic number to one to clinch a fourth consecutive division title by crushing the Rockies on Saturday night, 14-1, with Clayton Kershaw firing seven scoreless innings and Josh Reddick blasting a grand slam.The Dodgers are assured of no worse than a one-game tiebreaker

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers trimmed their magic number to one to clinch a fourth consecutive division title by crushing the Rockies on Saturday night, 14-1, with Clayton Kershaw firing seven scoreless innings and Josh Reddick blasting a grand slam.
The Dodgers are assured of no worse than a one-game tiebreaker on Monday, Oct. 3. If the Dodgers win the National League West, they would play the NL East champion Nationals in the NL Division Series. Washington has a 1 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage in that matchup. They can clinch the division with a win Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium in the final home game to be broadcast by retiring legend Vin Scully.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
"As nice as it would have been to clinch with a Giants loss today, it's also a little more gratifying after a win," said manager Dave Roberts. "Tomorrow we have the opportunity to have our own destiny in our hands. Any team would want to clinch anywhere, but it's always sweeter to clinch at home and for that great man, great human, to do it in his home, in his house, I think it's only fitting."
Kershaw (12-3), who finished with six strikeouts and no walks, was perfect through the first 3 2/3 innings while the Dodgers offense gave him a 4-0 lead in the second inning off Chad Bettis (13-8). He has 23 strikeouts and one walk in four starts since returning from 2 1/2 months on the disabled list with a herniated disk. He's 9-0 over his last 10 starts against Colorado.

The Dodgers blew it open in a six-run seventh that included three walks and a hit batter.
"We talk about swing at strikes and take balls, and you can look at the box score and see slug and hits, but the key for me is guys taking walks, to keep the line moving," said Roberts, whose club had eight walks. "We continue to stress pitchers. When you play against quality pitching in the postseason, when every at-bat and out matters, it's important to stay in the strike zone and tonight we did that."

Reddick, who hit only .161 in August after being acquired with Rich Hill from Oakland, went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and his fourth career grand slam. He's hitting .397 in September.
"The first two pitches I swung at I actually was trying a little too much," said Reddick. "The one I hit, I just tried to put a good swing on it and that's what I've got to do more, just slowing things down and letting the hands work. August was a mixture of bad luck and bad swings thrown in there as well. In Arizona, I had back-to-back games where some bloops fell in and it's somewhat evening out now."

Only one threat: The only time Kershaw came close to allowing a run was after a one-out double by Stephen Cardullo in the fifth inning that sailed on left fielder Howie Kendrick. But he struck out Pat Valaika and retired Tony Wolters on a routine bouncer to second baseman Chase Utley. More >
"Physically I feel good, but a few things pitching-wise, I hung some offspeed pitches there," said the self-critical Dodgers ace. "That two-strike pitch to Cardullo he drove into the gap, that pitch can't happen [at] 0-2. Some other things like that, sliders that didn't quite get where I wanted them to go. Overall, it was better tonight."

Thrill of a lifetime: On Saturday, the Rockies gave Valaika his first Major League start, against Kershaw. But with Kershaw gone in the eighth, Valaika had his first big Major League thrill -- a home run off Jesse Chavez on an 0-2 pitch to end the Dodgers' shutout bid.
Valaika, who turned 24 on Sept. 9, played for UCLA annually against USC in games at Dodger Stadium, which helped his comfort level.
"The stakes are a little higher, but I had a certain level of comfort here," Valaika said.
Before the game, Valaika received scouting reports on Kershaw from DJ LeMahieu, who had the night off, and Ryan Raburn, and was happy the night finished with him going deep and Vin Scully referring to him as "the kid from Valencia."
Valaika said, "Nice. I've got some videos on my phone already. I'll watch those in a little bit."

Perfect at the plate:Justin Turner had three hits and two walks in five trips to the plate, scoring twice with a pair of RBI singles. He is batting .358 with five doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games against Colorado this season.

Making his presence felt:Nolan Arenado had the Rockies' first hit, an infield single with two out in the fourth. But one of the other hits off Kershaw came from Cardullo, who toiled in the independent leagues from 2012-15. Cardullo delivered a double.
"For the fans that have supported us, I think we lead all sports in attendance and I think we have forever. And so, for those fans supporting us, to do it in front of them would be the cherry on top." -- Roberts, on possibly clinching at home on Sunday
With Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday remaining, the Dodgers have drawn 3,651,350 in attendance, and figure to exceed 3.7 million for a fourth consecutive season.
A nifty flip from the glove of Utley seemed to go to waste when Wolters was called safe at first after hitting a dribbler to second base. The Dodgers challenged the call and got it overturned after a couple minutes of review to see if the ball reached Adrián González's glove before Daniel Descalso's foot reached the bag.

Road team: Rookie lefty Tyler Anderson (5-5, 3.58 ERA) has had a solid overall season but Sunday's 2:10 p.m. MT finale of the four-game set with the Dodgers is a chance for him to find success on the road, where he is 0-4 with a 5.10 ERA.
Dodgers: Vin Scully will call a game at Dodger Stadium for the final time on Sunday, as the legendary broadcaster continues to finish up a 67-year career this season. Brandon McCarthy, who grew up listening to Scully, will take the mound as he returns from a problem with right hip stiffness that wreaked havoc with his fastball command a month ago. First pitch is 1:10 p.m. PT.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.