By Bob Baum
The Associated Press
PHOENIX — Languishing deep in last place three months ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers are headed to the playoffs.
The Dodgers became the first team to clinch a postseason berth, wrapping up their first NL West title since 2009 when they rallied past the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 on Thursday behind two homers from Hanley Ramirez.
Despite an NL-high payroll of $214 million-plus on opening day, the Dodgers got off to an 30-42 start and were last in the division, 91⁄2 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks, before play on June 22. Los Angeles has gone 58-23 since.
The Dodgers trailed 6-3 in the sixth and A.J. Ellis hit a tiebreaking homer off Josh Collmenter (4-4) leading off the eighth.
J.P. Howell (2-1) got two outs for the victory.
Clinching on the home field of their nearest, but not very near, rival, the Dodgers charged the mound after Aaron Hill flew out to left field for the final out. They mobbed Jansen and the throng bounced out toward second base in continued celebration. A few Diamondbacks watched from the dugout. Most made their way to the clubhouse.
Ramirez, who sat out five of the last six games with an irritated nerve in his lower back, hit a three-run homer in the third inning and a tying solo shot in the seventh. It was his 13th career multihomer game and first since Aug. 18 of last year.
In the ninth, with a sizeable contingent of Dodger fans roaring its approval, Jansen fanned Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado before Hill’s fly ball ended it.
With a new ownership taking over from Frank McCourt on May 1 last year, the Dodgers stumbled this spring and manager Don Mattingly’s job appeared to be in jeopardy.
But Los Angeles won 17 of 20 leading into the All-Star break, the first stages of what became a 42-8 run that had the Dodgers 22 games above .500 after a three-game sweep of the Mets on Aug. 17.
Arizona starter Wade Miley’s troubles in the third began when he walked Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco to lead off the inning. Yasiel Puig was forced out at second on a throw from right fielder Gerardo Parra after the base runner held up on Jerry Hairston Jr.’s blooper. That brought up Ramirez and he homered to left to make it 3-0.
Arizona took a 6-3 lead after starting the third with four consecutive hits.
Consecutive doubles by Juan Uribe and Scott Van Slyke, followed by Ellis’ RBI single cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth, then Ramirez led off the seventh with his 20th home run of the season, on an 0-2 pitch from Chaz Roe, and it was tied 6-all.