PHOENIX -- An eighth-inning solo home run by A.J. Ellis lifted the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks, 7-6, on Thursday, allowing Los Angeles to clinch the National League West. The Dodgers, who hold an 10½-game lead with nine contests remaining, are the first team in Major League Baseball to clinch a postseason berth in 2013.
The Dodgers were 12 games under .500 at their low point of the season, 9½ games behind the Diamondbacks. Los Angeles was in last place as late as July 1, making them the fourth team in MLB history to finish in first place after being in last place in July or later, according to Elias Sports, joining the 1914 Braves, 1973 Mets and 1995 Mariners.
After watching his team take a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco struggled to get an out in the bottom half of the frame. The first four Diamondbacks reached base and the game was tied before he even got an out. Miguel Montero gave Arizona a lead with a single, then Wade Miley doubled in a pair of runs for a 6-3 lead.
Ellis broke the tie with a home run that just barely found its way over the left field wall, and Kenley Jansen closed it out for his 26th save.
Sept. 19 marks the earliest date the Dodgers have clinched a postseason berth since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The previous early mark was accomplished in 1977, when the Dodgers secured the NL West on Sept. 20.