SAN FRANCISCO -AP- Mired in an 11-game losing streak, Clayton Kershawand the Los Angeles Dodgers felt the magnitude of this regular-season game more than most.
Understandably so, the way September has gone so far.
Kershaw pitched the Dodgers to their first win in nearly two weeks, helping them clinch a playoff berth by finally beating the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Tuesday night to snap the club's longest losing streak since moving to the West Coast in 1958.
Dodgers battle past Giants to snap 11-game slide, clinch playoff spot
"We needed it," manager Dave Roberts said of his team, which had lost 16 of 17 games entering the day. "We were scratching and clawing to get that W."
The Dodgers' drought was their worst in 25 years, topping 10-game skids in Los Angeles during the 1961 and 1992 seasons. The 1944 Brooklyn team lost 16 straight games.
With Tuesday's win, the Dodgers avoided matching the longest losing streak in MLB history by a team that won 90 or more games that season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Despite the recent tailspin, Los Angeles still owns the best record in the majors at 93-52. The National League West leaders secured at least the second NL wild card and joined the NL East champion Washington Nationals as the only teams to punch their postseason tickets so far.
The Dodgers clinched a playoff berth for the fifth straight season.
"A lot of relief in that clubhouse," Roberts said. "Usually there's handshakes, but tonight there were more hugs. Playing it cool went to the side tonight. I think it was warranted."
Kershaw (17-3) tossed six innings and tied Milwaukee's Zach Davies for the major league lead in wins.
Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 37th save but allowed three straight singles with one out in the ninth to face a bases-loaded jam. He struck out Buster Posey and Nick Hundley to end the game. Los Angeles catcher Yasmani Grandal pumped his right fist and Jansen pounded his chest as the Dodgers hustled out of their dugout.
"He's the best in the league for a reason. He got it done," Kershaw said of the Dodgers' closer. "Tonight wasn't easy. Nothing about these past two weeks has been easy, so we shouldn't have expected this one to be easy. ... We needed everybody to get a win tonight. It took just about everybody. More just a sense of relief now that we got a win. We can't let up. Every time the losses keep mounting and mounting, it gets that much harder to win a game."
Justin Turner hit a key RBI double in the eighth and Chase Utley homered leading off the fourth, splashing into the water of McCovey Cove beyond the right-field wall for the first time in his career -- the 41st ever by an opposing hitter.
Neither team took batting practice on the field after playing past 2 a.m. because of two delays for lightning and rain Monday.
Los Angeles, which won for the first time since topping the San Diego Padres on Sept. 1, holds a 4½-game lead over Washington for the best record in the NL after the Nationals lost 8-0 to the Atlanta Braves. The teams meet this weekend in D.C.
"Making the postseason's no small feat," Kershaw said. "Can't take that for granted, but from where we've been, we want home field, we want the division, we want home field throughout the World Series. We have a lot of things to keep going for."
Kershaw followed Utley's homer with a double, and Corey Seager put the Dodgers ahead on a sacrifice fly. Yasiel Puig's two-run double chased Johnny Cueto, who had intentionally walked Cody Bellinger to bring up Puig.
Kelby Tomlinson homered leading off the third against Kershaw, who struck out six over six innings. He allowed eight hits and two runs.
The left-hander struck out pinch-hitter Tim Federowicz to end the sixth with the bases loaded after Orlando Calixte's sacrifice fly. Kershaw is 21-9 with a 1.62 ERA in 40 career games and 39 starts against San Francisco, and he improved to 9-1 in 11 2017 road starts.
Kershaw had a limit of 100 pitches in his third start since returning from a lower back strain -- and he was efficient, his night done after 91.
Cueto (7-8) struck out eight over 3⅔ innings, allowing four runs, six hits and four walks in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
The Dodgers elevated Cueto's pitch count in a hurry; he threw 77 pitches through three innings. But he struck out Grandal as Los Angeles left the bases loaded and stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings.
Then, the Dodgers got going in the fourth.
Bellinger was intentionally walked three times, making him the first Dodgers player to do so since Jose Hernandez on June 4, 2004, against Arizona.

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