Dodgers’ magic number to clinch NL West is actually 1

In his 25 seasons with the Dodgers, Mitch Poole, the team’s clubhouse manager, never had the kind of experience he had Sunday.

“It’s something to laugh at later,” Poole said.

Part of Poole’s duties on Sunday was to make sure the visiting clubhouse at PNC Park was prepared for a postgame celebration if the Dodgers clinched the National League West title.

Poole said he, assistant clubhouse manager Alex Torres and four Pirates employees got to work as soon as Russell Martin singled in a run that put the Dodgers up, 3-2, in the ninth inning. The entire locker room was covered with plastic to ensure that players’ clothes wouldn’t get wet from sprayed alcohol. Special hats and shirts were brought in. Champagne and beer were in a walk-in cooler down the hall.

The crew continued to set up the room into the bottom of the inning, which started with the Dodgers up, 5-2. But Pirates pinch-hitter Delwyn Young scored on a force out. Then Lastings Milledge hit a bases-loaded single to right that was misplayed by Andre Ethier, resulting in three runs and a 6-5 walk-off victory for the Pirates.

“It came down in 35 seconds,” Poole said of the plastic covering. “You know you need to get it down. You don’t want anyone to feel any worse than they already do.”


The crew did its job. Before the players returned to the clubhouse, the plastic was rolled up and thrown in a hallway that was out of sight. The hats and shirts were also placed there.

“No one saw anything,” Poole said.

Kershaw comes back

Pitch-count limitations prevented Clayton Kershaw from pitching past the fourth inning, but Manager Joe Torre was encouraged by the way the 21-year-old left-hander said he felt after not starting for three weeks because of a separated non-throwing shoulder.

“He wanted to go back out there again,” Torre said, referring to the fifth inning.

Kershaw was charged with two runs and four hits. He struck out five.

“I felt like I could’ve pitched like in a normal game,” said Kershaw, who threw 77 pitches. “I didn’t feel like I lost anything.”

Both of the runs he gave up scored in a three-hit third inning for the Pirates, who were aided by a couple of wild pitches.

Kershaw blamed the hits on the fact that he couldn’t throw his breaking ball for strikes when behind in the count, which allowed the Pirates to sit on his fastball.

But Kershaw said he felt that with one more regular-season start, he should be ready to pitch in the postseason.

“I’m glad we have enough time,” he said.

Belliard hurt

Ronnie Belliard had to be taken out of the game after straining his left groin rounding first base after hitting a ninth-inning single.

Belliard, who was two for four with a double and is batting .450 on this trip, said he didn’t think the injury was serious.

Scheduled starters in San Diego

Chad Billingsley’s scheduled start in San Diego on Tuesday was made official by Torre, who said Vicente Padilla will pitch in relief that day. With Torre deciding that the Dodgers will use a four-man rotation in the postseason, he said some of his six starters will be used in relief this week to see how they fare out of the bullpen.

Jon Garland will start on Wednesday.

Short hops

Casey Blake said he was recovered from a left hamstring strain he suffered last week but was held out of the lineup for another day because a pregame drizzle dampened the field . . . Juan Pierre started in left field in place of Manny Ramirez, who was given the day off.