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NL: D'backs roll to another West title

©Associated Press
September 29, 2002

PHOENIX -- With a record-tying offensive outburst, the Diamondbacks are West champions again.

The team that built its reputation with pitching clinched its second straight division title, and third in four seasons, with five home runs in a 17-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

Matt Williams and Steve Finley each homered twice for the World Series champions, who are aiming for a repeat despite losing Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell and Brian Anderson to season-ending injuries.

"This is the first of four parties," Mark Grace said. "We're winners of the best division in the National League."

The runs tied a club record achieved three other times, the last at St. Louis on April 17, 2001.

"We had that six-game losing streak and I told everybody to be patient, that this game runs in cycles, these guys are going to start swinging the bats better," manager Bob Brenly said. "It was just an explosion today."

The Diamondbacks celebrated the title with handshakes and hugs on the field. Champagne flowed in the clubhouse, where the mood was happy, but subdued.

"They know that the toughest road is about to start; 162 games is a long way to go," Brenly said. "To get to this position obviously is what we were shooting for, but we've got a bigger goal in mind."

Arizona faces Central champion St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs starting Tuesday. It has not been decided where the series will begin.

"You can have a good night and celebrate tonight," champagne-drenched owner Jerry Colangelo said, "but tomorrow we have an important baseball game. We expected a subdued kind of event, because we've been there and we've done it, and our expectations are much higher than what was accomplished here today."

Arizona leads St. Louis by one game for homefield advantage with one to play. The Cardinals hold the tiebreaker in case the teams end up even. The Diamondbacks send rookie John Patterson to the mound today.

DODGERS 14, PADRES 2: Brian Jordan kept up his September surge with four hits and three RBIs to lead host Los Angeles, but the Dodgers were eliminated from postseason contention.

Assured of their best record since 1991, the Dodgers were knocked out less than a minute before completing their win.

"We haven't lost, the Giants have won. There's a difference," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "We don't have anything to be ashamed of, we have everything to be proud of."

BRAVES 5, METS 2: Chipper Jones reached 100 RBIs for the seventh straight season and Tom Glavine had his final tuneup for the postseason for visiting Atlanta. John Smoltz earned his 55th save and former Rays third baseman Vinny Castilla hit a two-run homer for the Braves.

CARDINALS 3, BREWERS 1: Chuck Finley earned his 200th career victory and kept host St. Louis in the hunt for homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

EXPOS 6, REDS 0: Vladimir Guerrero went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, missing a home run by the slightest margin to remain one shy of a 40-40 season as host Montreal ensured its first winning season in six years.

PHILLIES 9, MARLINS 3: Placido Polanco and Bobby Abreu hit consecutive doubles in a five-run third and Doug Glanville added a two-run homer for visiting Philadelphia.

CUBS 5, PIRATES 4: Bobby Hill singled in the winning run, capping a two-run ninth-inning rally for host Chicago.

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