The Dodgers have figured out how to score runs, but they might have to learn to how to stop time in order to reach the playoffs.
They won their third consecutive game with an 8-0 blowout of the last-place Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium, but their chances of playing in the postseason were significantly reduced by what transpired Friday.
The team the Dodgers are pursuing for the second of two National League wild-card spots, the St. Louis Cardinals, defeated the Washington Nationals, 12-2. The Dodgers’ deficit to the Cardinals remains at three games with five games left. The magic number for elimination is down to three.
“I’m just realistic,” Clayton Kershaw said. “We’re three games back with five to go. We pretty much need to win out. That’s how it goes.”
That part looks possible, and not only because Kershaw, who pitched eight dominant innings, intends to start the regular-season finale against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
The offense is looking like it was expected to look when the Dodgers acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the Boston Red Sox last month. The Dodgers have scored eight runs in three consecutive games, something they hadn’t done all season.
“We’re swinging the bats well, so it’s kind of fun,” Kershaw said.
They had a four-run second inning in which Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Andre Ethier had three hits, including a run-scoring double. Shane Victorino blasted a three-run home run. Bobby Abreu hit the first pinch-hit home run of his career.
“That’s the way it should be,” Gonzalez said. “It shouldn’t be one guy. It should be multiple guys. We’re all chipping in.”
Gonzalez appears to be out of his slump.
“Just having a little bit of balance and staying on the ball better,” Gonzalez said. “I’m still missing pitches, but I’m feeling better.”
Kershaw (13-9) was feeling better as well.
He held the Rockies to five hits and struck out 10, in the process lowering his earned-run average to an NL-leading 2.58.
Kershaw was pitching on regular four days’ rest. His start in Cincinnati on Sunday came on 11 days’ rest, the result of missing a turn in the rotation because of a hip injury.
“I got some good work in between starts,” Kershaw said. “I threw a good bullpen and got back out there the next day and threw some fastballs. Just being on a regular routine helps. I felt I was able to command the ball better tonight than I did in Cincinnati.”
The highlight of Kershaw’s night came in the seventh inning, when the reigning Gold Glove winner started a double play after catching a comebacker by D.J. LeMahieu between his legs with his back turned to home plate.
“I was lucky,” Kershaw said, smiling. “Close your eyes and hope.”
The Dodgers did get some positive news from the out-of-town scoreboard, when the Milwaukee Brewers fell to the Houston Astros, 7-6.
That all but eliminates the possibility of a three-way tie for the second NL wild-card spot, which would have caused logistical nightmares.