LOS ANGELES -- Thanks to Luis Gonzalez, the Arizona Diamondbacks made it seven wins in eight games.
Less than 10 minutes later, it became a rather meaningless victory.
"It's unfortunate we played well too late. It's over," Gonzalez said after his two-run homer in the eighth inning sent the Diamondbacks to a 4-3 triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
"I think it's frustrating for every team in our division," he added. "Nobody jumped out and took hold of it."
When the game ended, the San Diego Padres (79-79) were close to completing a 9-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants to clinch the NL West championship.
The Diamondbacks were mathematically alive, albeit barely, when the day began.
"It is definitely a disappointment," said Chad Tracy, who homered and singled to drive in the first two Arizona runs. "We didn't accomplish our goal. Now, we're just going to go out and win for ourselves, play for pride, I guess."
With the Dodgers leading 3-2, Yhency Brazoban (4-10) walked Craig Counsell to open the eighth, and Gonzalez followed by hitting a 2-1 pitch into the right-center seats for his 24th homer.
Brandon Medders (3-1) worked a hitless seventh to earn the victory.
Tim Worrell pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jose Valverde retired the Dodgers in order in the ninth to earn his second save in two nights and 13th in 15 chances this season. Valverde has not allowed an earned run in 14 2/3 innings spanning his last 13 appearances.
"We did everything we could do tonight. We made the most of four hits," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "A leadoff walk followed by a home run, and then (Brazoban) settles down and mows down the next three."
The Diamondbacks have a seven-game winning streak against the Dodgers, and are 12-5 against them this year after going 3-16 against them last season.
The loss was the ninth in 12 games for the Dodgers, who need to win three of their last four games to avoid only their second 90-loss season since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. The 1992 team went 63-99.
Tracy hit his 26th homer off D.J. Houlton in the first and added a two-out RBI single in the third to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.
Arizona starter Shawn Estes retired 12 of his first 13 batters before suddenly losing command in the fifth. The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single by Dioner Navarro, and Estes hit pinch-hitter Mike Edwards with a pitch to force in a run.
Rookie Willy Aybar followed with a two-run single to put the Dodgers ahead 3-2. Estes, who failed for the third time to earn his 100th career victory, came out at that point after aggravating an injured left ankle that sidelined him for two months earlier in the season.
"It just hasn't felt right," Estes said. "It seems every day it hasn't gotten better. It hasn't gotten worse until I pitch. By the fifth inning, I couldn't push off it anymore."
Estes allowed three hits and three runs in 4 1/3 innings. Houlton gave up four hits and two runs in five innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.
Dodgers left-hander Wilson Alvarez made the final appearance of his career in the seventh, but it was brief. The 35-year-old left-hander departed after Shawn Green, the only batter he faced, lined a single through the box that glanced off his pitching hand. X-rays of his ring and pinky fingers revealed no fractures.
"He embodies everything an L.A. Dodger should be -- professionalism, goodness, and special to his teammates," Jim Tracy said. "He's a consummate professional."
Alvarez, who had announced his retirement effective at season's end, said he thought his hand was broken when the ball hit him.
"Right now, that's it for me. I'm done, and I don't want to make a big deal out of it," he said.