Dodgers beat Brewers to stay alive in NL West race; Julio Urías gets 20th win

The Dodgers' Julio Urías gets a standing ovation as he exits the game in the seventh inning Oct. 2, 2021.
The Dodgers’ Julio Urías gets a standing ovation as he exits in the seventh inning. He gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings and earned his 20th victory as the Dodgers won 8-3 over Milwaukee.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The odds of the Dodgers staying alive in their vexing quest for a ninth consecutive National League West title Saturday weren’t pretty.

Los Angeles first needed the San Diego Padres — a miserable, disappointing collection of talent this season — to topple the 106-win San Francisco Giants. Minutes before that game started, a report surfaced that the Padres planned on firing manager Jayce Tingler once the season ended Sunday. The Padres quickly called the news “premature.” The word “false” didn’t make the cut. Tingler was a lame duck for another 24 hours. It didn’t look good for the Dodgers.

And yet the Padres came through for Los Angeles, ending a seven-game losing streak with a 3-2, 10-inning win in San Francisco that prompted cheers from the arriving crowd and smiles in the home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.


“It was a good buzz going around the clubhouse heading into that game tonight,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said, “knowing the opportunity that was in front of us.”

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The result slightly increased the Dodgers’ 9.5% chance of winning the division, according to FanGraphs. But games aren’t played on a TI-83. The Dodgers needed to beat the Milwaukee Brewers for the second straight night.

They stayed in the hunt with an 8-3 rout —their 105th win and 14th straight at home — to set up a dramatic Sunday. A Dodgers win and a Giants loss and the storied rivals play a tiebreaking Game 163 at Oracle Park on Monday. A Dodgers loss or a Giants win, and the Giants officially end the Dodgers’ reign.

First pitch for the games Sunday — as are all games across Major League Baseball — are scheduled for just after noon.
“They opened up the door a little bit,” Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock said. “They feel the pressure a little bit. We’re right on their heels. We’ll see what happens. We’re going to a take care of business on our side, and we’ll see if the Padres can do something for us.”

The Brewers (95-66) scored a run against Julio Urías in the top of the first inning before Justin Turner smashed a three-run home run off Corbin Burnes, a leading Cy Young Award candidate, to snatch a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

For Turner, it was his 27th home run, tying a career high he set in 2016 and 2019. For Burnes, it was the low point in a short workday.

The Dodgers' Justin Turner watches his three-run home run during the first inning Oct. 2, 2021.
The Dodgers’ Justin Turner watches his three-run home run during the first inning.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Dodgers (105-56) caught a break when Brewers manager Craig Counsell, whose team has already claimed the NL Central crown, removed Burnes after two innings. The right-hander exited with a league-leading 2.43 earned-run average, just ahead of Max Scherzer’s 2.46. Burnes, as a result, clinched the ERA title unless the Dodgers force a Game 163, which Scherzer possibly would start.

Los Angeles capitalized on the move, tacking on three runs in the fourth inning off Colin Rea to render the contest a rout.

Pollock capped the surge with a two-run home run, his 21st of the season, effectively cementing drama for Sunday’s season finale.

The Giants’ result had a direct impact on Urías’ usage. If the Giants won, his outing likely would have been cut short to keep him fresher for a possible relief appearance in Wednesday’s wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants’ loss triggered a normal workload as Urías sought to become the Dodgers’ first 20-game winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

Urías responded with a dominant outing to conclude his breakout season after playing postseason hero a year ago.

The left-hander held Milwaukee to one run on one hit with 92 pitches across 6 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.96 over 185 2/3 innings. He walked off the mound in the seventh inning after congratulatory words from manager Dave Roberts to a rousing ovation. He acknowledged the fans with a raised right fist.

Julio Urías improved to 20-3 on the season with the win.
Julio Urías improved to 20-3 this year. He’s the first Dodger with 20 wins in a season since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
(Associated Press)

“It’s something incredible,” Urías said in Spanish. “It’s something you dream about. It’s a dream season.”

The Dodgers originally planned on using Urías in the postseason as their No. 4 starter and a reliever in a hybrid role like the one he starred in last October. Kershaw’s injury Friday changed that.

The Dodgers officially placed Kershaw on the injured list Saturday with “left forearm discomfort” — the same ailment that kept him off the mound for over two months — after the left-hander departed Friday’s game in the second.

Right-hander Mitch White was called up to take Kershaw’s spot on the roster. Roberts said Kershaw will undergo further testing Monday.

The Dodgers could play a tiebreaker game against the San Francisco Giants to decide the NL West champion. The Dodgers have a long, famous tiebreaker history.

Oct. 2, 2021

Roberts confirmed that the club will proceed as if Kershaw, an impending free agent, won’t throw another pitch in 2021.

“I think we all knew the possibility that it could get to this point,” Roberts said. “He was determined to do everything he could in his power to see this thing through this year, to be a part of it, as he noted [Friday] night. And, unfortunately, it gave way [Friday] night. But we kind of knew the potential, the possibility that this might happen.”

So, the Dodgers will participate in a postseason without Kershaw for the first time since 2006 — eight division titles, three World Series appearances and one championship ago. The New York Mets swept them 3-0 in the National League Division Series that year. Whether they even play in the NLDS in 2021 remains unknown, but Saturday’s results ensured that the preferred route there — through a division title — isn’t closed quite yet.

The San Francisco Giants lost to the San Diego Padres, missing a chance to capture the NL West title. The Dodgers need to win Saturday to stay in the race.

Oct. 2, 2021