With the Arizona Diamondbacks in town this week, the Dodgers asked the visiting manager to speak about a home run he hit 25 years ago at a Tuesday news conference.
Kirk Gibson’s home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is the most famous home run in Dodgers history. But images of Gibson limping around the bases and pumping his fist are also a constant reminder that the Dodgers haven’t won a championship since then.
The Dodgers could be moving closer to providing a new generation of fans with October memories of their own. The team’s magic number to win the National League West is down to six after pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke’s 11th-inning, two-run, walk-off home run, giving L.A. a 5-3 victory over the second-place Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
“I was waiting for a chance to get this game over with,” said Van Slyke, who lined a changeup by Josh Collmenter over the short wall in the left-field corner.
The Dodgers could secure their first division title in four years as early as Saturday, when they face the San Francisco Giants.
“I hate to talk about it,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers’ seventh walk-off victory of the season was set up by the bullpen. Relievers Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell and Chris Withrow combined to hold the visitors to one hit over five innings.
Reclamation project Edinson Volquez had a promising second start for the Dodgers, limiting the Diamondbacks to three runs and four hits over six innings.
“I brought everything I was doing in bullpen sessions to the game,” Volquez said.
Volquez blanked the Diamondbacks over the first three innings. He gave up his first run in the fourth inning, when Miguel Montero singled in Paul Goldschmidt. The run cut the Dodgers’ lead to 2-1.
The Diamondbacks went ahead in the fifth inning, 3-2, on a towering two-run home run by Didi Gregorius that sailed halfway up the right-field pavilion.
The Dodgers responded in the bottom half of the inning, illustrating the lineup depth Gibson praised earlier in the day. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez drew successive walks, after which Andre Ethier doubled to the right-field corner to drive in Ramirez and tie it at 3-3.
“Adrian Gonzalez has a cast of characters around him, really, for the first time in many, many years,” Gibson said. “When he played with San Diego, we could pitch around him. Now, he he’s got protection.”
Of the three runs charged to Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill, only the one in the sixth inning was earned.
The first two runs scored by the Dodgers were the result of a second-inning throwing error by catcher Montero.
Juan Uribe walked, took second on a wild pitch by Cahill and reached third on a one-out single by Mark Ellis.
Volquez put down a bunt, which Montero retrieved. Instead of throwing to first base, Montero attempted to throw out Ellis at second.
Montero’s throw sailed into center field, allowing Uribe to score and Ellis to reach third. Ellis scored on a groundout by Puig to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Mark Ellis singled with one out in the 11th, and Van Slyke lined a pitch into the left-field seats, giving the Dodgers a 13-game lead.