Dodgers win National League West with 7-6 win over Diamondbacks

Norm Hall

The Dodgers captured their first division title in four seasons.

PHOENIX -- Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs, and A.J. Ellis hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning to give the Dodgers a 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks, clinching the 2013 National League West title.

Ellis led off the eighth inning with a home run into the left field seats off of Josh Collmenter to give the Dodgers a 7-6 lead. Ellis was 3-for-4 and also doubled earlier in the game. He has hit seven of his eight home runs this season on the road, where he has batted .270/.354/.418 this season.

The division title is the 12th for the Dodgers and their first since 2009. By date Thursday is the earliest date the Dodgers have clinched a playoff spot since the 1955 Brooklyn team secured the NL pennant on Sept. 7. In their 153rd game of the season, this year's squad trails only the 1977 team (151st game) for the earliest clinching on the schedule by a Los Angeles Dodger team.

Ramirez had his 16th career game with at least four hits, and his third in 2013. In just 81 games this season Ramirez has 20 home runs and 25 doubles, and is hitting a robust .351/.403/.656 on the season.

After a pair of walks to open the second inning, Jerry Hairston popped a ball behind first base that happened to land for a possible hit, but Yasiel Puig did not pay attention to the play enough to get a good read on it and was easily forced out at second base. Ramirez followed with a bullet home run to left field for a 3-0 lead

Before the game manager Don Mattingly, after using six relievers to record 17 outs on Wednesday, said he was counting on Ricky Nolasco to go deep into the game.

"We need a big start out of Ricky," Mattingly said. "We had to use a lot of guys yesterday."

That did not happen.

Nolasco was staked to that 3-0 lead thanks to the Ramirez first home run in the third inning, but the bottom of the inning was a nightmare. Nolasco allowed seven hits in the inning, including three doubles and a triple, with the killer blow a two-run double by pitcher Wade Miley to give Arizona a 6-3 lead.

Nolasco pounded the strike zone all day, throwing 59 of his 74 pitches for strikes, though that might explain why he was so hittable. Two of his non-strikes hit Diamondbacks batters, including a 78-mph pitch that hit Martin Prado, prompting a warning to both benches by home plate umpire Jim Joyce.

The Dodgers chipped away with two runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by back-to-back doubles from Juan Uribe and Scott Van Slyke. That cut the Diamondbacks' lead to 6-5, and Ramirez's second home run, leading off the seventh, tied the score.

Brian Wilson pitched a perfect eighth inning and Kenley Jansen recorded his career-high 26th save to close out the win.

Notes

The Dodgers are the first MLB team to clinch a spot in the postseason in 2013.

Nolasco had two walks at the plate, joining Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke as Dodgers pitchers to have done that this season. A pitcher walking twice at the plate has only been done seven times this season, including twice by Nolasco (once with Miami).

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Hanley Ramirez 2 (20), A.J. Ellis (8)

WP - J.P. Howell (3-1): ⅔ IP, 1 walk

LP - Josh Collmenter (4-4): 1+ IP, 2 hits, 1 run

Sv - Kenley Jansen (26): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts

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