LOS ANGELES In a rivalry that's one of the most storied in sports, the Giants delivered one heck of a knockout Tuesday night.
Already the National League West champions, the Giants made sure the rival Los Angeles Dodgers wouldn't join them in the postseason, winning 4-3 in a thrilling game at Dodger Stadium that eliminated the home team from contention for the second wild-card spot. St. Louis took the berth and will visit Atlanta on Friday.
Barry Zito was sharp in his final regular-season start and made a strong case to be named the No. 3 starter when the postseason begins this weekend. Zito was charged with two runs over six innings.
The Giants have won 11 consecutive Zito starts and finished 21-11 with Zito on the mound. Zito has allowed eight runs over his past five starts and finished the season 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA.
Sergio Romo came on with the tying run on first and no outs in the bottom of the ninth and picked up his 14th save.
A solo home run by Buster Posey gave Zito an early 1-0 lead and all but clinched the N.L. batting title for Posey, who leads Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen by 10 points with one day left in the regular season.
Barring an epic collapse, Posey will become the seventh batting champion in Giants history and the first catcher to lead the N.L. in hitting since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.
After the Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the second inning, Joaquin Arias put the Giants back on top in the third with a solo homer, his fifth this season.
A curious bit of Dodgers decision-making helped the Giants extend their lead in the fifth. When the teams squared off Sept. 7 in San Francisco, the Dodgers intentionally walked Angel Pagan to load the bases in the seventh inning of a tie game. Marco Scutaro followed with a two-run single that led the Giants to a 5-2 victory.
In the fifth inning Monday, the Dodgers intentionally walked Pagan with two outs and a runner on second, again setting the stage for Scutaro, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 19 games. Scutaro again delivered, lining a double to right that scored two and gave the Giants a 4-1 lead.
The Dodgers put runners on second and third for Matt Kemp in the bottom of the inning, but Zito knocked down a liner and made an acrobatic throw to first to end the inning.
Zito rarely shows emotion, but he cut loose after the big play, pumping his fist and screaming as he jogged back to the dugout.