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LA loses 6-0 to Reds, falls back in race

Saturday - 9/22/2012, 9:03pm  ET

CINCINNATI (AP) - Hanley Ramirez hit a 99 mph fastball right to the second baseman, starting a double play that produced the final out and started the Cincinnati Reds' celebration.

The NL Central champions formed a joyous huddle and donned special shirts and caps commemorating the division title. The Los Angeles Dodgers stood by the dugout railing and watched, knowing it was less likely they would get to celebrate anything this season.

"I'd rather that they clinch before the game," manager Don Mattingly said. "Either way, it doesn't change what we're trying to do. We still have to win."

The Dodgers were shut out for the 15th time on Saturday, managing just six hits in a 6-0 loss that dropped them three games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild card. They also trail Milwaukee by a half-game with only 10 to play.

Los Angeles lost for the 11th time in 16 games, done in by a stagnant offense. The 15 shutouts are second-most in the league behind Miami. The Dodgers have been held to two or fewer runs nine times in the last 14 games.

Jay Bruce was Cincinnati's Mr. Clinch again, hitting the homer that started the Reds toward the win. Cincinnati secured the division title in 2010 when Bruce hit a first-pitch leadoff homer in the ninth off Houston's Tim Byrdak.

On Saturday, he led off the fourth inning with a first-pitch homer off rookie Stephen Fife (0-2), putting Cincinnati ahead to stay with his team-leading 34th of the season.

"It's not the same as two years ago, but I'll take it," Bruce said. "We've been taking care of business for quite a while, so we knew this was coming. Today is a nutshell of what we've been doing all season."

Fife, who was acquired from Boston in a three-team deal last year, allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.70 ERA in five starts this season but is still in search of his first major league win.

Mat Latos (13-4) allowed six hits and didn't walk a batter in eight innings for Cincinnati. Left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since Sept. 10 _ a tired shoulder had sidelined him _ and finished it off by getting Ramirez to bounce into the double play.

Cincinnati became the first team in the majors to clinch a division title this season, leaving it with one goal left. The Reds are vying with Washington for the NL's top seed in the playoffs, both with 92 wins that lead the majors.

The only thing missing was the manager.

Dusty Baker spent another day in a Chicago hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat. General manager Walt Jocketty texted congratulations to the 63-year-old Baker on his fifth division title as a manager, including two during the last three years with Cincinnati.

The three-time manager of the year also won division titles with the Giants and Cubs. Baker reached the World Series once as a manager, losing a Game 7 against the Angels in 2002, his final season in San Francisco.

Baker helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series championship as an outfielder.

The Reds had their first opportunity to take the title on Friday night, but lost 3-1 to the Dodgers in 10 innings. Bruce had a chance to win it with another game-ending homer, but struck out leading off the ninth.

A day later, Bruce connected, Brandon Phillips added a solo homer, and rookie Todd Frazier singled home a run for more than enough. The Reds added three runs in the eighth, aided by reliever Jamey Wright's throwing error.

NOTES: Los Angeles plans to start RHP Aaron Harang on short rest Sunday rather than go with LHP Clayton Kershaw, who hasn't pitched in a game since Sept. 11 because of a sore hip. He threw 20 pitches in the bullpen on Friday without problem. "Aaron Harang is the starter for right now," Mattingly said. ... Fife has allowed two earned runs or less in each of his five major league starts. ... Dodgers C A.J. Ellis grounded out twice, extending his slump to 0 for 28.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay


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