The Los Angeles Dodgers hope the desert heat doesn't melt the ice that's keeping their champagne chilled, as they try to clinch an NL West title Wednesday in the third test of a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
The Dodgers' magic number to clinch their first NL West title since 2009 is two and they got off the schneid with Tuesday's 9-3 win over the D'backs. Juan Uribe hit a two-run homer during a four-run first inning and Adrian Gonzalez belted a two-run shot in the third inning.
Los Angeles had an 8-0 lead by the fourth inning and welcome outfielder Matt Kemp back to the starting lineup. Kemp had a big night at the plate, going 4- for-4 with three RBI, two doubles and a run scored.
"It feels good, it feels good just to be with the team and to be able to go out there and run out with them and compete with them, do all that," said Kemp, who was activated from the disabled list on Monday after missing nearly two months with a sprained left ankle. "I miss baseball man, I haven't been able to play in a while so it feel good."
Zack Greinke was on point once again in the start for L.A. and delivered six innings of two-run ball, five strikeouts and one walk. Four relievers combined to allow one run the rest of the way and the Dodgers halted a four-game slide to win for just the fourth time in the past 13 tries.
Los Angeles is 1-1 on its 10-game road trip and will send Stephen Fife to the mound Wednesday night. Fife is taking the place of ace Clayton Kershaw, who will get extra rest and has tossed a Major League-leading 223 innings.
"They want me to be well-rested if I pitch deep (into October)," Kershaw said on the club's website. "I don't think I need it, but I'm not going to argue about it."
Fife, meanwhile, has a 4-3 record and a 3.38 ERA in 11 games, nine of which have been starts, this season and the Dodgers have lost three of his last four trips to the mound. In a 19-3 loss to San Francisco on Saturday, Fife was reached for five runs and six hits in three innings. The right-hander faced the D'backs for the first time in his career in a 4-0 loss last Aug. 1 and gave up two runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Arizona hopes to postpone L.A.'s title plans and had won three in a row and four of five games until Tuesday's lopsided loss.
D'backs All-Star Patrick Corbin was roughed up in two innings of work, as he permitted six runs and seven hits, including two home runs.
"They got a couple of hits early and I was leaving some breaking balls up," said Corbin. "I just couldn't find my spots early and they were able to get some hits."
Aaron Hill hit a solo home run and Paul Goldschmidt continued his recent tear with two hits and a run scored in defeat. Goldschmidt is batting .556 with 15 hits, nine RBI and two homers during a seven-game hitting streak.
The Diamondbacks, who are nine games off a wild card berth, will turn to Brandon McCarthy in the third installment of this series with the Dodgers and he is just 4-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 19 starts this season. McCarthy is also just 2-6 in his past eight decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 7-5 loss to Colorado on Friday, when he allowed two runs across six innings.
McCarthy has a 2-4 record in 10 home starts and is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.
Arizona leads the season series with Los Angeles by a 9-8 margin, but the Dodgers have won six of the previous eight encounters.