Capping a night that began with a 90th birthday celebration for Hall of Fame icon Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers trimmed the magic number for the National League home-field advantage over Washington to four and are two games ahead of Cleveland for the best record in baseball at 98-56. "This is for you, Tommy. Happy birthday," manager Dave Roberts said during an on-field interview. "It's a special group of guys that never wavered, stayed focused and pulled through adversity and tonight we're going to celebrate."
The 22-year-old Bellinger provided the sock, homering off losing Giants starter Jeff Samardzija (9-15). On the other end of the spectrum, 37-year-old Rich Hill (11-8) got the win, even driving in the other Dodgers run with his first double in a decade. Hill struck out nine in six innings.
"Understanding what was at stake, I just wanted to bring my best effort," said Hill, a Trade Deadline acquisition last year who signed a three-year extension over the winter after battling back from independent ball. "I'm so thankful to the Dodgers to give me the opportunity to come back. The older you get, the more perspective you get on time. Time is fleeting and you never know when your time is up and you have to take advantage of every single moment we have. Nights like tonight are not taken for granted."
Kenley Jansen picked up save No. 40 despite allowing a ninth-inning homer to Pablo Sandoval, the third season Jansen has reached the 40-save mark.
"I love the big fella," said Roberts. "'California Love' [Jansen's entry music] is my favorite song."
"Congrats to them. They've had a tremendous year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Across the board, they played really great baseball. ... They're well-deserved division champions."
The Dodgers will open the best-of-five National League Division Series on Friday, Oct. 6, at home, against either the division winner with the third-best record (Washington or the NL Central champion) or the winner of the Wild Card Game, likely between Arizona and either Colorado, Milwaukee or St. Louis.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Once a decade: Hill, of all people, got the scoring started for the Dodgers with an RBI double, his first extra-base hit since 2007. Hill followed a double by Logan Forsythe, who had been 0-for-15 in his career against Samardzija, and Hill nearly tripped and fell as he rounded first and headed for second. Then he was thrown out at third on a head-first slide trying to advance on Chris Taylor's grounder to short.
"I was just hoping I didn't trip and fall," said Hill. "I heard it's been 10 years. I bet I'm the only one in here that can say that."
Taylor seeks 20/20: The game was tied in the bottom of the third inning, 1-1, when Taylor stole second and advanced to third on catcher Nick Hundley's throwing error. Samardzija then walked Corey Seager (hitless in his previous 11 at-bats) before Bellinger took him into the seats. It was Taylor's 18th stolen base to go with 21 homers.
"Looking back on it, what leaves the worst taste in my mouth there was walking Seager [on a] 3-2 [count] and not making a competitive pitch there to get him to swing the bat," Samardzija said. "If he hits a homer there and it's 3-1, so be it. But to bring a hot Bellinger back to the plate with putting on Seager for free wasn't the best idea."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bellinger broke the NL rookie home run record previously held by Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956). Mark McGwire holds the MLB record of 49 set in 1987.
The Dodgers are the fourth club to finish first in five consecutive seasons in the divisional era. The last one was Philadelphia in 2003-07.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: San Francisco will give the start to Madison Bumgarner for Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT rematch at Dodger Stadium. Bumgarner has dropped four consecutive decisions, his longest losing streak since he staggered to an 0-6 mark before winning a game in 2011.
Dodgers:Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the ball for Saturday night's 6:10 p.m. PT start. Ryu looks like a pitcher without a postseason role, as the Dodgers figure to go with four starters and he's not one of them. But because of arm operations the last two years, the club is reluctant to use him in relief.