Diamondbacks Lose To Dodgers; Playoffs Begin Saturday In Milwaukee

Another night, another grand slam in the ninth inning. But this time the Diamondbacks couldn't come all the way back for a win, the way they had done in such thrilling fashion the night before.

Cole Gillespie hit a grand slam with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Yet the D-backs still came up short in a 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night in the regular-season finale at Chase Field.

Arizona needed to beat the Dodgers and for Pittsburgh to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in order to get home-field advantage in the divisional round of the National League playoffs on the last night of Major League Baseball's regular season. The Brewers won 7-3, and the Diamondbacks, their fate already sealed midway through the evening, fell to the Dodgers despite the late show they gave remaining fans. 

That set the pairings for the two NL Division Series. The Diamondbacks are off to Milwaukee for Game 1 of their series on Saturday, while the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL wild card Wednesday and go to Philadelphia in the other series. 

Atlanta's loss to the Phillies saved -- yes, saved -- the D-backs from opening up against the pitching-rich Phillies. Ian Kennedy is expected to be the Game 1 starter for the Diamondbacks, who finished the regular season 94-68, the third-best record in franchise history.

Joe Saunders figures to be in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation come the Division Series, but he still needs to figure out how avoid giving up runs early in games. The Dodgers tagged Saunders for five runs on nine hits through six innings, continuing Saunders' trend of allowing a higher batting average to opponents in the first few innings. 

Saunders usually settles down in the middle innings, however. Wednesday night, he didn't.  But his teammates made it quite a finish, as Henry Blanco followed Gillespie's slam with a solo shot, the fifth time the D-backs have hit back-to-back blasts this season.

The Dodgers scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning, both with two out and on an RBI triple by eighth-place hitter Jamey Carroll and single by starting pitcher Ted Lilly. 

Matt Kemp, the Dodgers' MVP candidate, hit a two-run home run off reliever Wade Miley, whose one inning of work didn''t help his cause to be on the playoff roster.  Dodgers fans at the game gave Kemp a standing ovation after he struck out in the ninth, his last at-bat of the season. 

The Diamondbacks managed just three hits off of Lilly.  By the ninth inning, manager Kirk Gibson had inserted six bench players ino the lineup, knowing his team's playoff opponent was set. 

A crowd of 41,791 was there to send the D-backs into the postseason, and with that, the regular-season attendance total ended up at  2,106,975.

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