By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers’ fourth consecutive division title could arrive inside of 24 hours.
Scoring twice in the first inning and adding back-to-back homers by Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier in the fourth, the Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies, 5-2, whittling their magic number to clinch the National League West down to two.
About an hour earlier, San Francisco wrapped up a 7-2 loss to San Diego. One-time Dodger phenom Edwin Jackson, now pitching for his 11th MLB team, allowed two runs in six innings for the Padres.
The 88-66 Dodgers lead the NL West by seven games with eight to play. With another Giants loss and Dodger win Saturday (or any time in the ensuing week), Los Angeles will have wrapped up its spot in the postseason.
Colorado right-hander Jon Gray tied an MLB record for most strikeouts (10) in an outing of four innings or less, something that had never happened against the Dodgers. But he threw 106 pitches in the process, allowing four runs — including a first inning in which he walked two and hit Justin Turner (2 for 3) with a pitch.
Ethier’s homer, which came as a pinch-hitter, was his first in almost exactly a year, dating back to September 26.
The one discordant note for the Dodgers was twanged by Scott Kazmir, who in his first September start, threw a 19-pitch shutout inning — aided by outfielder Andrew Toles outfield assist at home — but couldn’t answer the call for the second. The Dodgers said Kazmir suffered from right intercostal spasms.
Winning pitcher Ross Stripling pitched three innings of shutout relief, lowering his ERA as a reliever this year to 2.11. The Dodgers tonight broke the single-season franchise record for most bullpen innings pitched with 559, according to the Dodgers public relations department.