If the Dodgers are to go far in October they're going to have to start winning in September. At least that has been the trend recently with three of the last five World Series winners posting the best record in the last full month of the regular season.

And the other two had the majors' second-best September record.

"I think there is a correlation" said Skip Schumaker who won two World Series rings with the St. Louis Cardinals. "You have to feel good about where you're at and not coast into the playoffs."

Hitting coach Mark McGwire a player or coach on four World Series teams agrees.

"You have to have momentum" he said. "You have to have that feeling. There's no switch that you just go 'OK the light's on. Playoff time. I've got to start tuning it up.'

"It's tuned up [in] games prior to those."

In that case the Dodgers are due for a tuneup. Because even after Sunday's 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres their third victory in four games the team is 10-11 this month. And in the last 11 years only one team with a losing record in September recovered in time to win a title.

"Building the habit of winning that's the key" Schumaker said.

Manager Don Mattingly isn't so sure. The only time he reached the postseason as a player in 1995 the New York Yankees finished the season 22-6 and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

"You've won seven in a row going down the stretch and you go 'wow we're playing really good.' And you lose the first [playoff] game. Now what happened to that momentum?" he said. "For me the playoffs are about who plays better that day. It's going to be how we're able to go out and play."

The Dodgers went out and played well Sunday or at least pitched well with right-hander Zack Greinke holding the Padres to two singles through five innings. He also doubled in his only at-bat raising his average to .339 and making him the only Dodger to get past first base through six innings against starter Andrew Cashner.