PHOENIX (AP) — Leave the math to everyone else. The Los Angeles Dodgers know how to win baseball games.
Mookie Betts hit a three-run homer, Cody Bellinger added a two-run double and the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-0 on Monday night behind Tyler Anderson, becoming the first major league team to clinch a playoff spot this season.
For real, this time.
The Dodgers thought they had secured a playoff berth Sunday after beating the Padres, celebrating with a postgame toast and distributing caps with the postseason logo on them. After further review, the math didn’t quite add up, and the Dodgers were just short.
So for the second straight day, the Dodgers celebrated a trip to the postseason.
“I don’t know if that’s ever been done,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said with a grin. “But it feels good.”
The Dodgers could make it three celebrations in three days on Tuesday, when a win would allow them to clinch the NL West. The Dodgers won their 97th game of the season Monday and are 54 games over .500.
Anderson (15-3) and Diamondbacks rookie Ryne Nelson engaged in an impressive pitching duel for the first six innings.
The Dodgers broke through against the D-backs’ bullpen in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. Trayce Thompson snapped the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly off Kevin Ginkel and then Bellinger pushed the Dodgers ahead 3-0 with a double into the right-center gap.
It was a good moment for Bellinger, who was the 2019 NL MVP but hasn’t come close to reaching that level of production since. He came into the game with a .200 batting average, 17 homers and 55 RBIs.
“Belly will be Belly, he’ll be fine,” Betts said. “He always finds ways. He competes. He plays a Gold Glove center field, which is huge. For some odd reason, he comes through in those clutch situations. We always know he’ll be there, be a fierce competitor and be ready when the lights turn on.”
Betts crushed a three-run shot to left in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a six-run cushion. It was his 34th homer of the season, a career high.
Anderson went seven innings, giving up five hits, walking two and striking out two.
“I didn’t think he had his best stuff, to be honest,” Roberts said. “But it just kind of shows his compete and his will. He made pitches when he needed to, got groundballs, fielded his position and got outs.”
Nelson threw six shutout innings in his second major league start, extending his scoreless streak to 13 innings since he was called up to the big leagues last week.
The 24-year-old threw seven shutout innings against the Padres in his debut on Sept. 5.
“He’s been fantastic,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He fills up the strike zone, he’s got three pitches he can mix in and he does a great job of following the game plan.”
Nelson didn’t have much trouble with the Dodgers’ potent lineup, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out six. He allowed a two-out triple to Trea Turner in the sixth and then intentionally walked Freddie Freeman, but retired Will Smith on a liner to center that ended the inning.
Betts made a nice play for the Dodgers while getting a rare start at second base.
Speedy D-backs outfielder Alex Thomas hit a grounder that deflected off Anderson’s glove, which made Betts readjust his path as he charged in to field the ball. Betts then flipped the ball with his glove hand to Freeman, beating Thomas by a split second.
Betts is usually the team’s right fielder but made his fifth start of the season at second, subbing for injured Gavin Lux. Betts came to the big leagues as an infielder before switching to the outfield.
Betts’ infield cameo isn’t expected to be a long-term arrangement, but he does give the Dodgers options.
“It makes me miss being in there,” Betts said of playing second. “But they pay me pretty good to be in right field, so I’ll go back out there.”
Diamondbacks: Called up OF Jordan Luplow from Triple-A Reno. Designated INF Wilmer Difo for assignment.
Dodgers: Roberts told reporters that INF Gavin Lux (neck) continues to improve, was doing “all baseball activities” and could be put on the active roster this weekend. … Tony Gonsolin (right forearm strain) threw a bullpen Sunday and Roberts said the All-Star right-hander came out feeling “OK.” Roberts is still confident Gonsolin can return to the rotation by the end of the season but acknowledged that time is running short.
The teams play again on Tuesday. Arizona sends RHP Merrill Kelly (12-5, 2.94 ERA) to the mound against LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-3, 2.62).
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