LOS ANGELES--The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League pennant last night by beating the favored New York Mets, 6-0, in Game 7 behind Orel Hershiser's five-hitter, completing one of the greatest turnarounds in major league history.
The Dodgers will host Game 1 of the 85th World Series Saturday against Oakland in a rematch of the 1974 Series won by the Athletics in five games.
Hershiser, who finished the season with a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings, started Games 1 and 3 without getting a decision and saved Game 4. Of the 65 innings pitched by the Dodgers, Hershiser accounting for 24 2-3.
He broke the major league playoff mark of 22 2-3 innings, set in 1986 by Boston's Roger Clemens. The old NL playoff mark was 18 innings by Mike Scott of Houston, also in 1986.
It is the Dodgers' ninth pennant since moving to Los Angeles in 1958 and their first since 1981, when they went on to beat the New York Yankees in the World Series.
The Dodgers scored first in six of the seven games against the Mets and made things easy for Hershiser by scoring a run in the first off loser Ron Darling. Los Angeles then chased him with five runs in the second as New York made three sloppy fielding plays.
The Dodgers finished the regular season 94-67, a 43-game improvement over last year's 73-89 record. Only six times previously has an NL team finished 15 games or more below .500 one season, and rallied to finish 20 games or more above .500 the next. The Dodgers were also 73-89 in 1986.
Ironically, the Mets were 73-89 in 1968 and went on to win the World Series in five games against Baltimore a year later.
In 1960, Cincinnati finished 67-87 and rallied to win the NL flag with a 93-61 record in 1961. Last season, Minnesota won the American League pennant and World Series after finishing 71-91 in 1986.
Steve Sax, 12-for-40 lifetime against Darling, got the Dodgers started with a single and moved to third on Mickey Hatcher's double down the leftfield line. Kirk Gibson, playing with a pulled left hamstring, then hit a scrifice fly to deep center field.
The Mets and Darling self-destructed in the Dodgers' big second inning.
Mike Scioscia and Jeff Hamilton led off with singles and Darling misjudged Alfredo Griffin's bunt, allowing it to fall in for a single to load the bases.
Hershiser hit a one-hopper to third that rookie Gregg Jefferies bobbled for an error, allowing Scioscia to score and reloading the bases. Sax followed with a two-run single to chase Darling and bring on Dwight Gooden, who started Game 4. It was Gooden's first major league relief appearance.
After Hatcher advanced the runners with a groundout, the Mets walked Gibson to load the bases and set up a double play.
The strategy almost worked when Marshall hit a grounder to second. But Wally Backman's flip to shortstop Kevin Elster was wild allowing the fourth run of the inning to score. John Shelby capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left.
Darling pitched one-plus innings, allowing six runs, four earned, and six hits.
He was 17-9 during the regular season but 3-8 on the road with a 4.38 ERA. Darling started Game 7 of the 1986 World Series against Boston and allowed six hits and three runs in 3 2-3 innings. The Mets went on for an 8-5 victory.
The Mets threatened in the first when Wally Backman singled and Keith Hernandez walked with one out. But Hershiser retired Darryl Strawberry on a groundout and fanned Kevin McReynolds.
Jefferies had two hits for the Mets and went 6-for-11 against Hershiser in the series.
Hershiser had five strikeouts, two walks and two hit batsmen in pitching the third shutout in a series-deciding game in playoff history.