Dodgers have fun on, off field in festive finale

Uribe victorious as fill-in manager; three homers lead way

Dodgers have fun on, off field in festive finale

LOS ANGELES -- He started the day as Juan Mattingly, but he left Papi Lasorda.

In his managerial debut Sunday, third baseman Juan 'Papi' Uribe wore both Don Mattingly's No. 8 and Tommy Lasorda's No. 2 jerseys, changing midgame to pay homage to Dodgers skippers past and present. It must've worked. Along with honorary bench coach Hanley Ramirez and pitching coach Clayton Kershaw, Uribe guided the Dodgers to a 10-5 win over the Rockies in their final game of the regular season.

With the National League Division Series opener on Friday against the Cardinals, Sunday represented the final chance for the Dodgers to let loose -- and let loose they did. Mattingly gave Uribe the nod as acting manager -- a role that Uribe clearly took to heart.

"He did great," Mattingly said. "We won, right? You see his demeanor with the guys. He had them playing hard, and he had them doing what he wanted to.

"If you watch our team, and you watch the videos, and everything that goes in the locker room, you know a lot of things go on around Juan."

Added Uribe: "I just want to say thank you Donnie and for everyone who gave me the chance to manage. You think you can do it, and it might be easy, but now I can say managing isn't that easy."

In the late innings, Uribe could be seen conferring with his hand-picked coaches in the dugout. At one point, he and Ramirez both approached home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook to discuss a double-switch. Pitcher Josh Beckett was originally supposed to be bench coach, but Uribe fired him in jest before the game. Mattingly joked that it was because Beckett forgot to bring coffee.

That fun energy extended to the Dodgers' on-field performance, as well.

The Dodger Stadium dugout bubble machine started cranking early after a two-run home run by right fielder Matt Kemp in the first inning against Christian Bergman. Bubbles pumped again after Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run home run in the third. And the Dodgers had their third bubble party of the day in the sixth inning, when reserve outfielder Roger Bernadina lifted a three-run home run to right, all but bursting Colorado's bubble.

Sunday was also a day to tie up loose ends. Limited to a pitch count, right-hander Zack Greinke delivered five strong innings in his final tuneup, allowing one run on four hits and striking out six to earn his career-high 17th win of the season. He also reached the 200-inning plateau, which he said was one of his goals to start the season. Left fielder Carl Crawford went 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .300, which was as low as .230 on Aug. 3. And with his three-run home run, Gonzalez pushed his Major League-leading RBI total to 116.

"Little things like that, that you can say you led the league in something, is always cool," Gonzalez said. "When you're a kid, you dream of being the home run hitter, being the RBI leader, the batting title champ and all that stuff, so it's cool."

Gonzalez said if Uribe had taken him out of the game before tallying those RBIs, he would have "ran and tackled him right in the middle of the bench."

Between the fun and games, several Dodgers had the chance to audition for a postseason roster spot. Darwin Barney picked up two hits and made a leaping grab behind second base to continue his strong weekend. And out of the bullpen, rookies Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez and left-hander Daniel Coulombe all received looks, with Garcia striking out the side in the sixth.

Even with all of those changes, Uribe made just one mound visit, with two outs in the seventh to remove Baez from the game. He strolled to the mound, sunglasses on, Lasorda's name on his back, and when he walked back to the dugout, he tipped his cap to his adoring fans.

He might never manage a Dodgers game again -- but he'll never lose one, either.

"I'm telling you," Mattingly said, "best in the game: Juan Uribe."

But when it was all said and done, a former manager with a bit more experience on his resume grabbed a microphone and addressed the Dodger Stadium crowd.

"I want to tell you this, I just had a birthday; I was 87 years old," Lasorda said. "And before I die I want to see that championship flag flying out there in center field. ... I've got a great feeling about this team. I think we're going to do it, I think we're going to get to the Fall Classic, and then the big Dodger in the sky can take me away."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.