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Dodgers head to postseason with seventh straight win

Oct 1, 2006 - 11:15 PM SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Julio Lugo's timely hit meant a victory but fell short of giving the postseason-bound Los Angeles Dodgers a division title.

Lugo snapped a seventh-inning tie with an RBI single and James Loney homered as the Dodgers won their seventh straight game with a 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Because San Diego held the tiebreaker by winning the season series, Los Angeles (88-74) needed a win and a loss by the Padres to secure its second National League West title in three years.

However, San Diego held on for a 7-6 victory over Arizona to win the division, which meant the Dodgers had to settle for the wild card. They will face the New York Mets in the Division Series.

"We wish we'd won the National League West," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "But you do that throughout the entire season, not just the last week. We're happy to be in the playoffs and we're proud of our team."

Trailing, 3-1, in the sixth, the Dodgers tied the score when Ramon Martinez doubled to right-center field off starter Jason Schmidt, plating Olmedo Saenz and Matt Kemp.

Brad Hennessey (5-6) relieved Schmidt in the seventh and walked Jason Repko, who stole second as Andre Ethier struck out. Just 4-for-22 in his last 10 games, Lugo ripped a single to right field to score Repko and give the Dodgers the lead for good.

"It's good to get a hit to go into the postseason with another win," Lugo said. "There's some magic going on around here now."

Los Angeles starter Eric Stults yielded three runs and four hits in five frames before giving way to Chad Billingsley (7-4), who surrendered just one hit in the sixth for the win.

Two more relievers bridged the gap to Joe Beimel, who retired the side in the ninth for his second save of the season.

After Loney belted his fourth homer of the season - and third of the week - in the second, the Giants went in front on a two-run double by Pedro Feliz in the bottom of the frame.

"I've been doing things with a little more power lately," Loney said. "It's not something I've tried to do. It doesn't work that way. It just happened at the right time."

San Francisco's Jason Ellison added a run in the fifth with an infield single, which plated Kevin Frandsen. However, it was not enough to prevent the Giants (76-85) from ending the campaign with 13 losses in 15 games.

In what may have been the final contest of his 14-year career with the Giants, Barry Bonds went 1-for-2 and received a standing ovation when he was taken out for a pinch runner in the sixth.

The 42-year-old Bonds, who is slated for elbow surgery in the offseason, finished the season with 26 homers and set the all-time National League record with 734. He is 21 shy of tying Hall of Famer Hank Aaron's all-time mark.

Another familiar San Francisco figure who may not return is 71-year-old manager Felipe Alou, a former Giants player who failed to guide the team to the postseason in the past three years after a wild card appearance in 2003.

"I don't have any emotion," Alou said. "I feel an urgency to go home, the way I always have, and I don't necessarily mean Florida. I don't feel at home until I get to that island where I was born (Dominican Republic)."

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