LOS ANGELES (AP) Alex Wood’s fastball wasn’t as sharp as usual, yet his stuff was still effective and the results were the same. Another win.
He allowed two solo home runs in earning his 16th victory of the year for the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez hit his third home run of an injury-plagued season and Los Angeles beat the San Diego Padres 9-2 on Tuesday night to clinch home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.
Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager each had a three-run homer to back Wood (16-3) as the NL West champions improved to 101-57. The victory, coupled with Washington’s loss at Philadelphia, guaranteed the Dodgers will finish with the best record in the NL.
Still, there’s uncertainty. Los Angeles has an abundance of proven starting pitchers and before the game, manager Dave Roberts wouldn’t commit to Wood – an All-Star this season – being in the postseason rotation.
Asked if he expected to start in the playoffs, Wood said: ”What do you think? . It’s out of my control, but I expect to start. I’ve been pretty good all year. Everybody in this clubhouse, I think, the guys trust me with the ball in my hand. We’ll see what happens.”
The Dodgers will open a best-of-five Division Series at home Oct. 6 against the winner of the NL wild-card game, hosted by Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ opponent has not been determined.
The Dodgers also moved closer to securing home-field advantage if they reach the World Series for the first time since 1988. They are 2 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland (98-59) for the top mark in the majors.
”That’s huge,” Seager said about earning the home-field edge through the NL Championship Series. ”We’re obviously really good at home. The next step is to try to finish out and get home-field advantage throughout the whole postseason.”
Los Angeles has scored nine runs against the Padres in consecutive games and won three straight overall.
Hunter Renfroe hit his 25th home run for San Diego, breaking the club’s rookie record set by Nate Colbert in 1969.
”It’s cool,” Renfroe said. ”Obviously, missing that month (when he was sent to the minors), this feels pretty special to me. I just think it’s a pretty cool achievement. I just want to keep going and keep hitting more. So, I’ll just keep working and keep hitting.”
Wood needed only six pitches to get through the first inning. He pitched well until the fifth, when he allowed solo homers by Renfroe and Christian Villanueva.
Villanueva’s drive to right field was ruled a home run after a replay review determined there was fan interference. The fan was ejected.
Aside from the home runs, Wood was in command once again. He gave up two runs and eight hits in six innings, striking out one and issuing an intentional walk.
Wood and teammate Clayton Kershaw have combined for 34 wins this season. Kershaw will make an abbreviated start Saturday at Colorado in his final appearance before the playoffs. It’s unknown whether Wood will pitch Sunday or not. But even more unknown is his role in the postseason.
”I know you want a good quote to create the drama of the postseason roster, but it is what it is, man,” Wood said. ”I’ve thrown pretty good. I feel good. I would love to start and would appreciate the opportunity. It would be my fourth time in the postseason. I’m just excited for us to finally get to October and go from there.”
Gonzalez, making his first start in two weeks and fighting for a spot on the playoff roster, hit an opposite-field solo shot to left in the seventh inning. It was his first home run since Aug. 24. He also doubled.
Seager added his three-run drive in the seventh.
Padres starter Dinelson Lamet (7-8) had command issues as he walked six – one intentional – and allowed four runs on four hits in five innings. He gave up Grandal’s three-run homer after walking back-to-back batters with two outs in the fifth.
”There’s a lot to like. A lot to believe in,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. ”It was a really good first showing in the big leagues, but I think he goes into the offseason with some clear things to work on in order to make himself a really viable top-of-the-rotation starter for us in the future. But stuff’s there.”
Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger wowed with a 99 mph throw, according to MLB Statcast, from center field that cut down Wil Myers at the plate in the seventh.
OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE
Yasiel Puig was back in the Los Angeles lineup one day after being benched for arriving late to a pregame workout at Dodger Stadium.
”Things have always been good with Yasiel,” Roberts said. ”I think he knows my sole interest is for the benefit of the ballclub. He’s in the lineup, deservedly so. His only focus is to help us win.”
Dodgers: Gonzalez (back) started for the first time since Sept. 11. … LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (arm) threw a bullpen and is scheduled to start Friday.
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (8-14, 4.63 ERA) has pitched well at Dodger Stadium this season, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts. This will be his final start of the season.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (11-8, 3.50) pitched the Dodgers to an NL West-clinching victory over the Giants last time out, allowing one run and striking out nine in six innings.
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