After title chase hits bump, L.A. looks forward

Dodgers hope to clinch division with win over Rox and a Giants loss on Sunday

After title chase hits bump, L.A. looks forward

DENVER -- There was nothing for the Dodgers to celebrate on Saturday as the magic number countdown stalled.

After the Giants rallied to beat Oakland, the Dodgers initially overcame Nolan Arenado's first-inning grand slam, but Carlos Gonzalez's walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth propelled the Rockies to an 8-6 win and left a third consecutive division title still out of the Dodgers' reach -- at least for one more day.

They have lost six of the last eight and the first two of this series. The magic number is two, but unless the Dodgers win and the Giants lose on Sunday, on Monday the rivals meet in San Francisco with champagne still on ice.

"Nobody is in panic mode or getting impatient," said starting pitcher Brett Anderson. "We just have to play better."

Anderson's 30th start was a milestone achievement in an injury-marred career, a high since his 2009 rookie season. But he took no solace in that after allowing six runs in four innings, albeit most of the 10 hits were on ground balls. He admitted to breaking "a fountain or something, whatever is down there" in the tunnel to the clubhouse.

The bullpen followed Anderson with four scoreless innings from Adam Liberatore, Pedro Baez, Luis Avilan and Yimi Garcia until the ninth inning. Joc Pederson made a run-saving diving catch in the seventh inning and the offense battled back, with a home run, double and three RBIs from Andre Ethier.

Manager Don Mattingly said he wanted to stay away from Chris Hatcher because of recent usage. Kenley Jansen was warmed up for a save situation had the Dodgers taken the lead. He stuck with Garcia, who had posted 11 consecutive scoreless appearances coming into this one. Mattingly also acknowledged that in their only previous encounter, Gonzalez slugged a three-run homer off Garcia. Now he's 2-for-2.

"It's no secret Yimi relies on the fastball, his command and ability to elevate with two strikes," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "The count got flipped [coming from 0-1 to 3-1] and you can't afford to walk people here. They've got 1 and 1-A with Cargo and Arenado and you're in a tough box, trying to find a way out of it. He's a phenomenal fastball hitter against a guy with a phenomenal fastball. He won the matchup tonight."

Ellis rejected the suggestion that the Dodgers are frustrated not being able to close it out.

"I just feel like we're trying to push through across the finish line," he said. "I think we're all confident it's going to happen, we're just making a final push and sprint across the line. We want to win our way in. Hopefully, if Oakland beats the Giants and we win, we can celebrate tomorrow night. If not, we can do it on their field, which would be sweet as well."

Mattingly said he wouldn't get caught up in games he can't get back.

"You go backwards," he told a questioner, "I don't go backwards. At this point, it's tough to win games down the stretch, it's tough to close things out. What matters is going forward."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.