Dodgers lose, learn they're Atlanta-bound

LOS ANGELES -- Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies began to take on a spring training feel, with starting pitchers piggy-backing each other's outings, with Triple-A players all over the field in the final innings and nobody seeming too worked up about the result.

When you can afford to play like that in Game 162, you’re usually in pretty good shape.

The meaningful action came in the middle of the game, when the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs to sew up the National League’s top seed, locking in the Dodgers’ first-round playoff opponent: the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers went 2-5 against the Braves this season. They got swept in a three-game series in Atlanta and split a four-game series at home, but both of those series came during the Dodgers’ dark days, when they were beset with injuries, and only die-hard Dodger fans had ever heard of Yasiel Puig.

One of the things the Dodgers will begin to find out Thursday, when they open the National League Division Series at Turner Field, will be whether their sluggish September will impact their hopes of playing deep into October.

The season ended with a whimper, with the Dodgers scoring two runs the past two games against the team with the worst ERA in the National League.

That reflected a longer-term slowdown. The Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball until they got swept in a three-game series in Cincinnati. After Sept. 5, the Dodgers went 9-14 to end their season. In many of those games, manager Don Mattingly rested more than one of his everyday position players, cognizant of a big division lead and the fragility of his team’s health.

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed two runs Sunday, somehow working around eight hits, in four innings and finished his rookie season with an even 3.00 ERA. He will pitch Game 3 of the Dodgers’ first-round playoff series at Dodger Stadium next Sunday.

Much of Sunday was about auditions and brush-up work. Ricky Nolasco, who figures to be the Dodgers' Game 4 starter, if they need one, pitched a scoreless inning. So did Chris Capuano, who is bidding to latch onto a job as a reliever coming off a groin injury.

It was a good season for the Dodgers' box office. Sunday was the 29th sellout, the team announced, the most at Dodger Stadium since 1983. They drew 3,743,527 fans on the season, best in baseball.