Dodgers clinch playoff spot — for real this time

PHOENIX — Mookie Betts hit a three-run homer, Cody Bellinger added a two-run double and the Los Angeles 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.

But MLB said Monday that it failed to account for a potential scenario in which the Padres (77-64) overtake the Dodgers for the NL West title and Los Angeles finishes in a three-way tie at 96-66 with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. Milwaukee would win the NL Central in that scenario while St. Louis would win the wild-card tiebreaker with Los Angeles based on head-to-head results this season.

But it was all moot hours later, as the Dodgers won their 97th game of the season and moved to 54 games over .500.

They’ve now reached the playoffs 10 straight times, the third-longest streak in major league history. Only the 1991 to 2005 Braves (14 straight) and 1995 to 2007 Dodgers (13) had better runs.

These Dodgers can clinch the NL West on Tuesday night with a win or a Padres loss.

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 RBI.

Betts crushed his three-run shot to left in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a six-run cushion. It was his 34th homer of the season.

Anderson went seven innings, giving up five hits, walking two and striking out two.

Nelson threw six shutout innings in his second MLB 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 Sept. 5.

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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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