Vin's big night a winner! Dodgers near clinch

Vin's big night a winner! Dodgers near clinch

LOS ANGELES -- Vin Scully Appreciation Night started with an emotional pregame tribute for the retiring Hall of Fame announcer and ended with a 5-2 Dodgers win over the Rockies on Friday night, cutting their magic number to win the National League West to two while extending the lead over the Giants to seven games with eight to play.

The NL West champion will play the NL East champion in the NL Division Series. The Dodgers trail Washington for home-field advantage by 1 1/2 games.

"The number's getting smaller, but the thing for us is to play good baseball," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "There are things we've got to clean up to play better baseball."

Roberts on Dodgers' 5-2 win

Joc Pederson and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier hit back-to-back home runs, Ross Stripling (5-8) pitched three scoreless innings after taking over for injured starter Scott Kazmir and Kenley Jansen picked up save No. 47. Stripling, a starter throughout his Minor League career, has become the go-to long reliever on a team that repeatedly uses them, and still wins.

"This role, he gives us a little bit of length out of the 'pen, which is great," said Roberts. "He gives us the flexibility, and it really proved to be the difference tonight."

Stripling replaces Kazmir

The Dodgers scored two runs off starter Jon Gray (10-9) on Yasmani Grandal's first-inning bloop single with the bases loaded. Gray, whose first-inning ERA is 6.75, struck out 10 with three walks and a hit batter in four innings, while throwing 106 pitches.

Pederson's home run was his 24th, while it was the first for Ethier, who missed most of the season with a broken leg. Pederson also walked twice.

"He still takes his big swings, but when it comes down to winning a pitch he's doing a better job of that," Roberts said of Pederson. "To see him not try to do too much, when he gets on base and sees pitches, he's at his best. To get that home run was just a little more validation for him."

Ethier, the Dodger with the longest tenure, saw the irony in hitting a home run on a night dedicated to Scully, whose 67 seasons as the voice of the franchise gives new meaning to the word tenure.

"It was a neat ceremony to start the game and you could see what Vin means to this organization and what he means to the fans," said Ethier. "And to be selfish, what he means to my career and that he's called probably every at-bat I've had in this stadium and you realize how lucky you are to be involved in this game. I was able to somewhat reflect on his long tenure and reflect on some of my own stuff."

Scully honored at Dodger Stadium

Nolan Arenado slugged his 40th home run off Josh Fields in the sixth inning and Tom Murphy singled home the second Rockies run. Kazmir, activated off the disabled list (neck injury) to make this start, left after one inning with a right intercostal muscle spasm, essentially ruling him out of postseason consideration.

"It's tough for me to swallow, only going one inning and having the bullpen pick us up, pick me up," said Kazmir. "That's what they did. It's awesome what Strip and all those guys did today."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Collecting the Toles:
For the second time in a week, Andrew Toles threw out a baserunner. This time it was Arenado, who was trying to score from second on Carlos Gonzalez's two-out single to left field in the first inning. Statcast™ clocked the throw at 97.6 mph, the fourth fastest of the year for throws that resulted in an assist. It was his third assist in 14 games playing left field.

Statcast: Toles' cannon arm

Into the books: Arenado, who hit 42 homers last year to tie the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the NL home run title, became just the third third baseman in history to have multiple 40-homer seasons before age 26 with his sixth-inning shot off Fields. Arenado joined Eddie Mathews, who had three (1953-55), and Troy Glaus (2000-01), who had two. Arenado also became the fourth player in club history with consecutive 40-homer seasons. He joined Vinny Castilla (three straight), Andres Galarraga and Todd Helton. More >

The other corner: In right field, Josh Reddick saved at least one run for the Dodgers when he made a diving, tumbling catch of DJ LeMahieu's blooper with one out and runners on second and third in the third inning. The catch took a potential hit away from LeMahieu, who saw his on-base streak end at 38 games. 

Reddick's sensational catch

Your run-of-the-mill, 2-6-3-5 strikeout-double play: Righty Jeff Hoffman, who is the Rockies' top pitching prospect and No. 2 overall, according to MLBPipeline.com, has struggled in five starts. He entered for Gray and threw two scoreless innings and had the help of an odd double play to end the fifth. He fanned Grandal with runners at first and third. Adrian Gonzalez tried to steal second but catcher Murphy's throw had him by a longshot. Gonzalez created a rundown, but Rockies first baseman Stephen Cardullo saw that Justin Turner had strayed from third and threw to Arenado for the tag. 

"'Hoffie' did a nice job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I wasn't sure if we were going to get to see him in that [relief] role the rest of the way, but tonight there was an opportunity and he came in and threw up two zeroes for us."

Rockies turn odd double play

QUOTABLE
"Getting to see that takes a little sting out of that loss. That was special. Vin's a special guy. You can see how everyone felt. It was very heartfelt, everyone that spoke, they feel like they're very close to Vin. I think he makes everybody feel that way." -- Weiss on witnessing the pregame ceremony for Scully

Scully on his retirement plans

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers used six relievers to pitch the eight innings left over by Kazmir. For the season, the Dodgers' bullpen has pitched 559 innings, breaking the previous franchise record of 551 innings set in 2009.

Jansen nails down the save

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Crew chief Larry Vanover initiated a review of a ball hit by Yasiel Puig in the eighth inning that a fan touched near the right-field box seats. It was originally ruled in play by first-base umpire Dave Rackley and upon review that call was overturned and ruled a ground-rule double on fan interference.

Puig's opposite-field double

WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies: Righty Chad Bettis (13-7, 4.79 ERA), who has career highs in wins and starts (30), will start Saturday's game at 7:10 p.m. MT. Bettis is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in seven games, including four starts, against the Dodgers..

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw draws the start in the 6:10 p.m. PT game with a chance to pitch his fourth clincher. He brings with him a 17-5 career mark against Colorado and is 7-1 with a 1.19 ERA at home this year. He's coming off a no-decision against the Giants, when he allowed one unearned run in six innings with seven strikeouts. He hasn't faced Colorado this year.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.