SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants set forth upon a familiar path Sunday, claiming the National League's second Wild Card postseason berth by completing a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 7-1 victory at AT&T Park.
San Francisco advanced to Wednesday's Wild Card Game against the Mets at New York's Citi Field. The Giants won the Wild Card Game at Pittsburgh in 2014 en route to capturing their third consecutive World Series title in an even-numbered year -- a streak the Giants put themselves in position to sustain as they fended off St. Louis, the only remaining Wild Card contender which began Sunday a game behind San Francisco.
"This one is special, because of our fight to get here," said Bochy, who was drenched in champagne and beer during the boisterous clubhouse celebration. The Giants won five of their last six games while outscoring opponents 38-11. That included a 19-4 margin over the Dodgers as San Francisco finished 8-2 at home against its archrivals.
Had the Giants lost, they would have flown to St. Louis on Sunday night for a Monday tiebreaker game. That's why the importance of sweeping the Dodgers was uppermost in Bochy's mind.
"I felt we had to win out in this series," he said. "We couldn't count on somebody helping us. It was up to us to take care of business and these guys [did], in a great way. You could tell. They didn't want to fly to St. Louis tonight."
"We played a team with its back against the wall and they played like it," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "They won three games they needed to win."
Buster Posey drove in three runs and Denard Span lashed a two-run triple and two singles while scoring three runs to help support left-hander Matt Moore, who improved to 6-2 in his last eight starts by allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out six in eight innings.
Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, with a chance to tie the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie record with a 17th win, instead fell to 16-11 with his shortest start of the season, whacked for five runs on nine hits in only 2 2/3 innings.
"The breaking ball was just OK, the fastball command just OK and he made mistakes over the plate," Roberts said. "Overall, he wasn't sharp and they took advantage of it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dizzying Gillaspie: Third baseman Conor Gillaspie wowed witnesses by tumbling headfirst over the dugout railing and a television camera as he snared Chase Utley's third-inning popup. Gillaspie also assisted on a couple of challenging plays flawlessly and contributed at the plate by doubling and scoring in the second inning. It was a fulfilling performance for Gillaspie, who began the season with Triple-A Sacramento.
"In a situation like today where we have to win, if that ball was close enough for me to catch, I would have dove anywhere, any place, anytime to try to catch it," Gillaspie said.
As usual, Vin Scully said it best. Working the final game of his illustrious 67-year career, the legendary Dodgers broadcaster described the play, in part, by saying, "Gillaspie refuses to quit."
Still struggling against the southpaws: At least the Dodgers weren't shut out Sunday as they were Saturday. Justin Turner got the first hit off Moore leading off the fourth inning on a deflection off the glove of second baseman Joe Panik, and two-out singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal scored their first run since the sixth inning Friday night. The Dodgers were 22-24 in games started by opposing left-handed pitchers this year.
"Overall, as an offense, we need to be better," said Roberts, whose club had four hits Sunday and scored four runs in the three games.
Moore makes it right: Moore's performance couldn't have differed more from his previous outing against Los Angeles on Sept. 21, when he allowed six runs and seven hits while lasting two batters into the second inning.
Moore explained that, if anything, he tried too hard against the Dodgers in his previous encounter with them.
"The effort was kind of taking over," he said, explaining his timing was off in his delivery as he drove toward home plate. "I wasn't going efficiently down the hill. I told myself to stay back and keep it simple."
Clutch off the bench:Andre Ethier, named to the postseason roster by Roberts before the game, delivered a single leading off the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter, which will be his primary role in the NL Division Series. Ethier is 4-for-11 as a pinch-hitter since he returned from a broken leg.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Giants left fielder Angel Pagan chopped a slow dribbler to second in the seventh inning and was initially ruled out. However, San Francisco challenged that Pagan touched the bag before Kiké Hernandez's throw reached first. The call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers: The Dodgers open the NLDS in Washington on Friday with Clayton Kershaw starting Game 1. Kershaw is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in the postseason. In his only start against the Nationals this year, he allowed one run in seven innings for a win at home. In his career, he's 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in Nationals Park. The Dodgers were 5-1 against Washington this year.
Giants: San Francisco will travel to New York's Citi Field for Wednesday's Wild Card Game against the Mets. It'll be a confrontation of premier pitchers, as the Giants' Madison Bumgarner will oppose Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner is 2-0 in two appearances against the Mets this season -- including May 1, when he bested Syndergaard with six shutout innings.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.