Elian Herrera celebrates as he runs to first on his walk-off single. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Hope lives, however minuscule, however dim.
It was delivered from the unlikeliest of sources: Elian Herrera lining a hit off the glove of Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro in the bottom of the ninth Monday to leave the Dodgers with a desperately needed 3-2 victory.
Despite the dramatic walk-off hit, similar to the previous night, the Dodgers still lost while winning.
Long before their own game had been completed, the Cardinals had defeated the Reds 4-2 to reduce their magic number to one.
With two games left to play, one victory by the Cards or one loss by the Dodgers ends L.A.'sr playoff hopes.
If nothing else, the Dodgers will be the last National League team to be eliminated from the postseason. And for one night at least, they did not have to be eliminated by the Giants.
Monday marked their sixth consecutive victory.
After Kenley Jansen gave up a game-tying run in the eighth, the Dodgers came back on the hot, muggy October night in the bottom of the ninth.
Hanley Ramirez led off with a single against reliever Santiago Casilla and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Shane Victorino. Luis Cruz singled, but third base coach Tim Wallach held Ramirez at third.
After going 3-0 to A.J. Ellis, the Giants intentionally walked him to load the bases with one out, and brought the infield in for Herrera.
Herrera, who had only entered the game in a double-switch in the eighth, sent a line drive up the middle. Scutaro jumped as high as he could, but the ball went off his glove. If he had caught it, it probably would have been an inning-ending double play.
The Dodgers faithful hardly appear ready to embrace the team's fading playoff chances. Despite opening their final regular-season series of the year against their arch rivals, with their slim playoff hopes on the line, the Dodgers announced a crowd of only 33,624.
And as too often down the stretch, the Dodgers immediately fell behind.
Aaron Harang walked Scuturo in the first, and Buster Posey doubled off the wall to give the Giants an early 1-0 lead. And with right-hander Matt Cain looking comfortable in his last start before the playoffs, a one-run lead wasn't to be dismissed.
It remained that way until the bottom of the fourth when Mark Ellis singled and Andre Ethier crushed a two-run homer to center. For Ethier, it was his 20th home run of the season.
The Dodgers missed a chance to add to their lead in the sixth when Adrian Gonzalez, who had doubled, was thrown out at the plate by Xavier Nady on a Victorino single.
After the first inning, Harang was in control. He did not allow another run in his six innings, and surrendered only two hits.
The Dodgers carried their 2-1 lead into the eighth. Angel Pagan then doubled into the right-field corner off Jansen and scored on a Scutaro single to right, after shortstop Ramirez threw a weak relay home.
Brandon League, the Dodgers' unexpected closer
Couldn't any team but Giants be poised to eliminate Dodgers?
Same ol' James Loney in Boston, which may want him back anyway