Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 10/2)

Game 1: Friday, October 1
San Francisco4Final
LA Dodgers2
Game 2: Saturday, October 2
San Francisco3Final
LA Dodgers7
Game 3: Sunday, October 3
San Francisco10Final
LA Dodgers0

Giants 3

(90-71, 43-36 away)

Dodgers 7

(93-68, 49-31 home)

4:05 PM ET, October 2, 2004

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California 

123456789 R H E
SF 000200100 3 6 2
LA 000000007 7 7 0

W: Y. Brazoban (6-2)

L: D. Hermanson (6-9)

Dodgers in playoffs for first time since '96

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Dodgers have spent many recent Octobers watching postseason baseball on television.

This year, they'll be playing.

Steve Finley's grand slam capped a seven-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Los Angeles won the NL West by beating the San Francisco Giants 7-3 on Saturday.

Brent Mayne

Brent Mayne and the Dodgers' bench jumped for joy after Steve Finley's dramatic home run put L.A. into the playoffs.

"We do it the Hollywood way -- that's for sure," closer Eric Gagne said. "It's amazing."

The Dodgers qualified for the postseason for the first time since making it as the wild card in 1996. They won the division the year before.

Now, they'll look to win their first postseason game since upsetting Oakland in the 1988 World Series. The Dodgers will play at St. Louis if Houston wins the wild card or at Atlanta if San Francisco wins the wild card.

"We never quit -- we're winners," said Odalis Perez, who will pitch the playoff opener. "We know how to do it. We finish."

Finish, indeed. The comeback victory was the Dodgers' NL-leading 53rd of the season, setting a franchise record. The old mark was 52 by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Thirteen of the team's last 14 wins have been comeback victories, and they've won 26 in the final at-bat.

The 39-year-old Finley, acquired by the Dodgers from last-place Arizona at the trade deadline, was only too happy to come to the plate in such a spot.

"For the last two weeks, I've been putting myself in that situation," said Finley, drenched in champagne in a raucous clubhouse.

"I was dreaming about it, and it happened," Finley said. "I wanted it. I knew I was going to get it done. When I walked to the plate, I knew the game was over. I even had a smile on my face, if I remember."

The stunning loss -- keyed by three walks and a critical error -- left the Giants in a precarious position.

Their division hopes dashed, the only way Barry Bonds and Co. can make it back to the postseason is if they beat the Dodgers on Sunday, Houston loses its home game to Colorado, and then they beat the Astros in a one-game playoff Monday in San Francisco.

The Astros beat the Rockies 9-3 Saturday night for a one-game lead over the Giants.

"We lost -- we didn't win," said Marquis Grissom, who burned his former team for the second straight day, driving in all three San Francisco runs. "We played a good game, we gave it up at the end. It doesn't matter how we lost. We've got to come out and win tomorrow."

After it was over, pitcher Jose Lima took a victory lap around Dodger Stadium to the roar of the crowd. Perez dumped a bottle of champagne over Lima's head near the backstop.

Four days after rallying for five runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat Colorado 5-4, the Dodgers did it again -- and then some.

Blanked on four hits by Brett Tomko and two relievers entering the ninth, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out on a single by Shawn Green and two walks by Dustin Hermanson (6-9), who was pulled after walking pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi to force in the first Los Angeles run.

Jason Christiansen relieved and got Cesar Izturis to hit a grounder to the left side, but shortstop Cody Ransom, inserted into the game for defensive purposes, misplayed it for an error, allowing Robin Ventura to score.

Jayson Werth followed with a single off Matt Herges to tie it, capping an eight-pitch at-bat.

"I battled the whole at-bat, kept fouling off pitches," Werth said. "Then I got something I could drive, and I hit it the other way."

With the winning run at third and one out, Finley hit an 0-1 pitch from Wayne Franklin into the right-field seats, and the celebration began immediately.

Finley was mobbed at the plate and the party continued for several minutes as the sellout crowd of 54,594 went wild.

"Everything was appropriate about that," Werth said of Finley's heroics. "He's unbelievable. He's brought a lot to the table for us this year."

Yhency Brazoban (6-2), the sixth Los Angeles pitcher, worked one inning to earn the win.

"Everybody's fine," Franklin said in a somber San Francisco clubhouse. "We're sad that we lost. We have to think about tomorrow."

Hermanson was pitching for the fifth straight day, and questioned some of plate umpire Tim McClelland's calls.

"I feel a little overworked and tired, but I wanted to be out there," he said. "I made some good pitches he called balls. That kills you. I gave it everything I had today.

"This is crunch time -- I want to be out there."

Tomko allowed four hits in 7 1/3 innings before being relieved by Scott Eyre with two on and one out in the eighth. Eyre retired Finley on a grounder to second and Hermanson came on to induce Adrian Beltre to ground to short, ending the inning.

Little did anyone think at that stage that Finley would get another chance.

Grissom hit a two-out, two-run single off Elmer Dessens in the fourth to break a scoreless tie, and added his 21st homer off Duaner Sanchez to begin the seventh, making it 3-0.

Dessens, making his first start in 2½ months, was relieved by Wilson Alvarez after allowing three hits and two runs in four innings.

Game notes

It was the 27th sellout of the season at Dodger Stadium. ... Bonds walked three times, extending his single-season record to 231. ... Beltre (200) and Izturis (193) have teamed up for more hits than any Los Angeles duo since Steve Garvey (200) and Bill Buckner (193) had the same total in 1976. ... The Dodgers have won 93 games this season -- their most since 1991, when they also won 93. ... The only Los Angeles players on the current roster who played on the 1996 team were RHPs Darren Dreifort, currently on the disabled list, and Hideo Nomo, who doesn't figure in their postseason plans.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press