The latest incarnation of our top five series brings us to one of the greatest and oldest rivalries in sports. The Giants come to town today to play a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, both teams battling for a playoff spot. Here is a look at the top five games between the Dodgers and Giants of the last 10 seasons.
5) Eric Gagne vs. Barry Bonds, April 16, 2004
The Dodgers entered the ninth inning at AT&T Park with a 3-0 lead with super closer Eric Gagne on the mound, at the peak of his powers. With one on and one out, Gagne dueled Barry Bonds in a battle that was a chemist's dream, an epic six-pitch tilt that resulted in a mammoth Bonds home run at which even Dodger fans had to tip their cap. Gagne did retire the final two batters for his record 66th straight save. The three Dodger runs were all scored by Dave Roberts, and all came as a result of RBI groundouts by Milton Bradley.
4) The O-Dog Cycle In The Home Opener, April 13, 2009
The Dodgers opened their home schedule in style, with a resounding 11-1 win over their rivals. Vin Scully threw out the first pitch in his 60th season behind the microphone, and the Dodgers battered Randy Johnson for seven runs, knocking him out in the fourth inning. Chad Billingsley struck out 11 with no walks in his seven innings and got the win, but the star of the day was Orlando Hudson. Playing his first home game as a Dodger, Hudson became just the second Los Angeles Dodger to hit for the cycle, and the first since Wes Parker in 1970. The Dodgers went on to tie a major league record by winning their first 13 home games.
3) Dodgers Clinch A Playoff Spot, September 30, 2006
The Dodgers were fighting tooth and nail with the Padres for both the division title and wild card berth and also battling the Phillies for the wild card. They finished their regular season with a three game series in San Francisco, and on Saturday needed one win to clinch a playoff spot. Trade deadline acquisition Greg Maddux took the mound, and threw seven strong innings, allowing two runs for his sixth win in two months as a Dodger. Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito retired the final six batters and the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot on enemy soil with a 4-2 victory. They ended up tied with the Padres, and on a tiebreaker took the wild card.
2) The Duel & Russell Martin Walk-Off, August 13, 2006
The Dodgers were a streaky team in 2006. They lost eight straight games and 13 out of 14, and had a record of 47-55 on July 26. They followed that with an 11-game winning streak. After a loss, they won three more games in a row, including the first two of a home series with the Giants. The series finale pitted Maddux and Jason Schmidt (when his arm still worked) on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
Maddux allowed two singles to the first three batters, but then proceeded to retire the next 22 batters in a row. He completed his eight scoreless innings in only 68 pitches, but was matched by Schmidt, who threw eight blank frames of his own. The game went into the 10th inning as a scoreless tie, but Russell Martin sent everyone home happy with a leadoff blast into the left field pavilion off Vinnie Chulk to give the Dodgers another win. The Dodgers would end up winning 17 out of 18 and 41 of their final 60 games to march into the playoffs.
1) The Steve Finley Grand Slam, October 2, 2004
The Dodgers headed into the final weekend series with the Giants with a three game lead over San Francisco, needing just one win to clinch their first division title in eight seasons. A Friday night loss trimmed the lead to two, and the Dodgers trailed 3-0 heading into the ninth inning of the penultimate game of the season. Suddenly, with 17-game winner Schmidt scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Giants, a one-game playoff on Monday seemed imminent.
Dustin Hermanson allowed a single and three walks to the first five batters of the bottom of the ninth, and the Dodgers cut the lead to 3-1. An error by shortstop Cody Ransom and a single by Jayson Werth tied the game, bringing Steve Finley to the plate in a tie game with the bases loaded and one out. All he needed was a fly ball into the outfield, and Finley obliged with a fly ball to right field that happened to carry into the seats giving the Dodgers a seven-run ninth inning and a division title. Finley was acquired at the July 31 trading deadline that season, and he hit 13 home runs and had 46 RBI in 58 games as a Dodger, but will always be remembered by Dodger fans for that one swing.
Perhaps the Tuesday game this week, with Clayton Kershaw facing Tim Lincecum, will crack this list. One can only hope.