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Dodgers stay in wild-card chase with 7-1 win over Rockies

Matt Kemp, Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis hit home runs to back up a solid outing by Josh Beckett. Dodgers trail St. Louis by two games for the second NL wild-card spot with three games to play.

October 01, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Recent events have convinced Matt Kemp that the Dodgers could do something special in the postseason.

"The way we're playing, I would like our chances against any team that we play," Kemp said.

Here's the problem: Short of a miracle, the Dodgers won't be there. They are on the brink of elimination, even after extending their winning streak to five games Sunday with a sweep-sealing 7-1 victory over the downtrodden Colorado Rockies.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals, 10-4, to maintain their two-game lead over Dodgers for the second of two National League wild-card spots.

The Dodgers and Cardinals each have three games left. The Dodgers will play host to the NL West champion San Francisco Giants from Monday to Wednesday, and the Cardinals will be visited by the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds.

With the magic number for elimination down to two for the Dodgers, they could be eliminated Monday if they lose and the Cardinals win.

"Obviously, I'd rather be two games up," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "All we can do is go out and win every game."

But even that might not be enough.

The Cardinals would be assured of the wild card if they win two more games.

"All we can do is take care of what we control and that's win our game," pitcher Josh Beckett said. "Ultimately, we put ourselves in this hole. We're trying to climb out."

In the Giants, the Dodgers will be facing a team with no incentive to win.

The Giants are already locked in as the NL's No. 3-seeded team in the playoffs. They are three games back of both the Reds and Nationals, meaning the best they could do is tie them. The Giants would lose the tiebreaker to both teams.

Nonetheless, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said he wants to keep his team sharp heading into the playoffs and intends to field his regular lineup against the Dodgers.

The Cardinals will play a Reds team that can still claim the top seeding.

"We can't really worry about what they're doing over there," Kemp said.

Kemp emphasized that he and his teammates had to block out negative thoughts, among them how their situation might be different if their offense had come together sooner.

The Dodgers have scored seven runs or more in four of their last five games.

Kemp hit his fourth home run in five days Sunday, a two-run shot to the opposite field that put the Dodgers ahead, 2-1, in the fourth inning. Later in the inning, Luis Cruz hit a two-run home run to increase the lead to 4-1.

Another two-run home run, this one by A.J. Ellis in the sixth inning, put the game out of reach at 7-1.

Kemp was two for three. So was Adrian Gonzalez, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Shane Victorino collected three hits and scored twice. Hanley Ramirez was two for four.

"Today was a great game, another great team effort," Kemp said. "We got key hits and scored runs. That's the team I remember, the team I know, just playing the baseball we know how."

Beckett maintained his solid form, limiting the Rockies to one run and six hits over six innings. In his seven starts with the Dodgers, he has an earned-run average of 2.93.

Beckett said he would continue to work as if the Dodgers are playoff-bound. If the Dodgers win the second wild card, they would face the first wild-card team, probably Atlanta, in a play-in game Friday.

"I plan on us getting at least to that," Beckett said.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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