LOS ANGELES — Will Smith had two hits and Michael Grove pitched five solid innings to pick up his first career victory as the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the National League with 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
By clinching the best record in the league, the Dodgers secured home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series.
“It’s the only stadium with four decks, 50,000 people and they are loud,” said Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, formerly of the Atlanta Braves. “Loudest stadium I’ve ever heard was this place in 2013 when Juan Uribe hit that home run against [the Braves in NLDS Game 4]. This place can be deafening. To have home-field through the NLCS is a big deal.”
Two days after reaching 700 home runs, Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols received a standing ovation when he was announced as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and struck out.
Grove (1-0), making his sixth appearance and fifth start, gave up one run and three hits to help the Dodgers tie a club record with their 106th win — previously accomplished in 2019 and 2021.
“It speaks to the level of consistency and excellence,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ve put ourselves in a really good spot. Part of getting where we want to get to, you’ve got to dominate and play well throughout the regular season. We’ve been as consistent as anyone.”
The Dodgers’ +322 run differential this season is on pace to be the best by any team in a season since the 1939 New York Yankees (+411, won World Series).
“To be honest, I didn’t even know that,” Grove said of the Dodgers being able to clinch the top seed in the NL. “I try to go out there and look at what the lineup is and how I’m going to get guys out. If I had known that, maybe there’s a little more pressure.”
Roberts was pleased with Grove’s effort, noting the rookie right-hander was sick in the days leading up to his scheduled start.
“Can’t say enough about Michael,” Roberts said. “He was under the weather. He was determined to make this start. After the fifth inning I felt he gave us everything he had. I really tip my cap to him.”
Freeman doubled in the first inning, giving him 191 hits and tying his career high set in 2018 with Atlanta. The double was his 46th of the season; he needs three more to tie the franchise single-season record of 49 set by Shawn Green in 2003.
Los Angeles scored twice in the first. After Freeman’s run-scoring hit, Adam Wainwright walked Gallo with the bases load to make it 2-0.
Yadier Molina had an RBI single in the second to pull St. Louis to 2-1, but Smith’s RBI single in the bottom of the inning restored the Dodgers’ two-run lead. Cody Bellinger had an RBI double to right field in the third to push Los Angeles’ lead to 4-1.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.