Orlando Hudson celebrates home run
Andre Ethier seems to be anticipating the return of Manny Ramirez early in July. The right fielder's average and power have shown marked increases when Ramirez is in the lineup and he has hit five of his 11 home runs in his last 11 games. Orlando Hudson and Matt Kemp also went long to help Chad Billingsley win his eighth game by a 6-4 margin.
The multi-homer game was the sixth of Ethier’s career and fourth this season and the home run barrage followed a 24-game slump that eventually moved him out of the third batting down the line to the sixth batting position.
However, on a day that Ramirez showed up to talk to his teammates, Ethier homered his first two times up and Hudson and Kemp added single shots to break a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning after Ramirez made a surprise visit to the clubhouse with 20 games left on his suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s substance abuse policy.
Chad Billingsley struggled, using 117 pitches before leaving with two out in the sixth inning, but he earned his eighth win against three losses. He didn't win his eighth game last season until July 3. He allowed three runs and eight hits.
The pesky Padres took a 2-0 first inning lead and tied the game in the top of the fifth before the relief crew moved in to calm the waters. Brent Leach, Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso allowed one him among them before Jonathan Broxton two in the ninth and coughed up a final run although he struck out two in the inning.
It was the first run Broxton has allowed this season at Dodger Stadium in 18 2-3 innings covering 16 appearances at home and the Dodgers improved to 40-20 and maintained their 8 1/2 game lead over San Francisco. It was his 14th save in 16 opportunities. He now has 33 career saves and is taking aim at Steve Howe (59) who is 10th on the Los Angeles charts.
San Diego's Chris Young took the loss and slipped to 0-5 in Dodger Stadium. Young (4-5) was charged with five runs and six hits over five innings in his third consecutive loss. The 6-foot-10 right-hander gave up four home runs for the second time in his six-year career.
The Dodgers, who were fourth from last in the National League in home runs, saw Ethier homer in the first and third before Kemp led off the fifth with his seventh of the season and with two out, Hudson drove a 3-2 pitch over over the fence in right-center for his fourth homer.
I was Hudson's first home run since April 30 at Dodger Stadium, also against San Diego, and Hudson sprinting around the bases a la Mickey Hatcher in the 1988 World Series.
After San Diego scored twice in the first inning, Ethier got one of the runs back in the bottom half of the inning when his homered slipped just inside the right field pole. Kemp tied it in the second with a two-out RBI single that scored Rafael Furcal, and Ethier gave Los Angeles the lead in the third with his second two-out homer. However this one sailed into the right field pavilion on the first-pitch he saw.
Ethier is 12-for-29 lifetime against Young, with six of the hits home runs.
“He’s a really good major league hitter,” Young said. “He’s hitting third and when Manny comes back, he’ll hit fourth. But one he hit was on a 67-mile-an-hour curve ball.”
Manager Joe Torre knew the Dodgers scoring drought was going to end. "We'll be fine. We're going to score runs," Torre said. "I think everyone's being self-conscious about it and probably trying a little bit too hard."
Perhaps it was the first day off after 17 consecutive games. Maybe it ended like many slumps do, without fanfare and with no discernible reason. But it seems to have ended so the endless questions from the media have been answered at least temporarily.
Ethier now has six career multi-home run games, four this season. And after hitting just .211 in May, Ethier is off to a sizzling start in June. He's 13-for-31 with five homers so far this month and the most recent two started a Dodgers season-high-tying four home run evening.
And even with the long balls, Torre was lavish with his praise of the bullpen. "That's been a big part of why we have been winning so many close games," Torre said. "Those people coming out of the bullpen have been doing a great job."
Clayton Kershaw (3-4, 4.25) draws the start in the finale of the two-game series with San Diego. The Padres have not announced a starter.
Score by Innings
San Diego 200 010 001-4
Los Angeles 111 020 01x-6
Los Angeles ab r h bi ave
Pierre lf 4 0 0 0 .352
Hudson 2b 4 1 1 1 .314
Ethier rf 4 2 3 2 .280
Loney 1b 4 0 0 0 .287
Blake 3b 3 1 1 0 .293
Martin c 3 0 2 0 .258
Furcal ss 3 1 1 1 .244
Kemp ss 3 1 3 2 .314
Billingsley p 2 0 0 0 .222
Leach p 0 0 0 0 .000
Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .250
Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000
Troncoso P 0 0 0 0 .000
DeWitt ph 1 0 0 0 .158
Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 32 6 11 6
San Diego 34 4 10 4
HR- Ethier 2 (37), Kemp (7), Hudson
(4). RBI- Ethier 2 (37), Kemp 2 (33),
Hudson (34), Furcal (13). LOB- Los
Angeles 6, San Diego 8. SB- Furcal
(4). CS- Ethier (2), DP- Furcal,
Hudson and Loney.
Los Angles in h r-er bb so era
Billingsley (8-3) 5.2 8 3-3 2 5 2.73
Leach 0.1 0 0-0 0 0 4.22
Belisario 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 2.57
Troncoso 1.0 1 0-0 1 1 1.64
Broxton (sv, 14) 1.0 1 1-1 1 2 1.50
WP- Billingsley. HBP- by Billingsley.
T- 3:03. Att- 35,313.
Juan Will be Gone
It was sort of "what have you done for me lately, mother?" when Torre announced that Juan Pierre would return to his spot on the bench when Manny Ramirez returns to the team. Pierre finished the first game against the San Diego Padres batting .352 with 21 RBIs. Since Ramirez went to the sideline May 7 he has bated .362 with 10 doubles, 18 RBIs, 23 runs, 12 walks and 12 steals. The Dodgers were 18-12 over that stretch.
But Torre didn't consider not replacing him with Manny. He pointed out Matt Kemp his best option in center field and Andre Ethier one of the team's best power threats. As for Ramirez, he's in another category for Torre altogether.
In fact, Torre won't even promising Pierre more at-bats than he was getting over the first month, when Ramirez still was on the roster. If he had to make a plan now, Torre sees Pierre playing about twice a week while one of the three regular outfielders gets a rest.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Pitcher Eric Stults, on the disabled list with a jammed left thumb, tested his injury for the first time by doing some light throwing. Stults is eligible to come off the disabled list June 14. With upcoming off days, the Dodgers are operating with a four-man rotation and won't need Stults until June 20 against the Angels. ...Rafael Furcal's time in the No. 7 spot of the lineup will last a little longer. Torre said as long as Ethier keeps hitting, something has to give at the top of the order. Furcal's inconsistent production had him bating seventh for the second time on the homestand. ...Although he allowed a run in the ninth inning, Broxton struck out two Padres and now has fanned 49 in 30 innings, a whopping 14.7 per nine innings. ...The Dodgers lead the Major Leagues with nine walk-off wins. Ethier has three and Loney, Martin, Hudson and Pierre have one each.