Ely, who won't turn 24 until May 14, was handed the task of derailing a Milwaukee team that had scored 22 runs in the first two games of the series, hammering Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley in the process, and succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
The Illinois native made three starts for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes this season, going 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Batters hit just .235 against the right-hander at Triple-A.
The young man, who came to the Dodgers along with Jon Link, in a trade with the White Sox that sent Juan Pierre to Chicago, blanked Milwaukee in his second Major League start for six innings, allowing four hits and a single run.
"I was just throwing strikes and trying to get ahead," said Ely, who gave up five runs over seven innings at New York in his big league debut on April 28.
"I came out tonight with a little more fire and a lot more determination in what I wanted to get accomplished. There was no more `Hey, I'm in the big leagues.' It was more `Let's buckle down and get this accomplished, because that's what you have to do to stay here."
He had allowed only two hits before a pair of singles wrapped around a wild pitch allowed the first Milwaukee run with two out in the seventh.
The right-hander gave a single with two out in the first and a leadoff single in the second, then retired the next 16 in a row before Prince Fielder singled with one out in the seventh and scored on a bloop, two-out single by Gregg Zaun.
Ely never broke 90 mph during the game, but "You don't have to throw 90," said catcher Russell Martin. "He can really pitch."
Jonathan Broxton made his first appearance since in six days and a pair of perfectly placed singles tied the game in the ninth.
Then in the bottom of the inning, Ethier drove a line drive just to the left of center with the bases loaded for the second grand slam of his career and his 11th walkoff hit since the start of 2008, the most in major leagues during that stretch.
It was the second time this season he has batted with the bases loaded and his second grand slam.
Ethier was buried in a pile of jubilant Dodgers when he reached the plate.
"It was important to bounce right back and not dwell on it and say `Oh, why us?' in that situation," Ethier said. "I don't know what it is, but for some reason, I just keep getting up in that situation with an opportunity to do it. I can't figure it out. It definitely makes things a lot easier when there's a guy standing at third and one out.
"John (Ely) pitched more than good enough to get a win in that game. And for us not to put up enough offense to allow him to walk away with a win definitely leaves a bitter taste in my mouth."
After being battered 11-6 and 11-3 in the first two games of the series, the Dodgers got a run in the first with a sacrifice fly by James Loney after leadoff man Xavier Paul
and Ethier had walked. Loney's RBI extended his streak to a career-best six consecutive games. He has 12 during the stretch, after driving in just seven runs in his first 22 games.
After the Dodgers scored in the first inning on a walk to Xavier Pal, a second walk to Ethier, and Loney's sac fly, they got a gift --actually two gifts-- from Milwaukee in the second inning.
With two out, Jamey Carroll doubled with two out and Ely bounced a ground ball to third base. The throw was down the line just a bit and Prince Fielder let the ball tip off the edge of his glove and roll into the dugout for an error and the second run. Paul's double drove in Ely with the first run of his professional career.
After a leadoff single in the second, Ely retired the next 16 Milwaukee batters. At the same time, Dave Bush had recovered from the two unearned runs in the second inning and had limited the Dodgers two four hits before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.
Claudio Vargas, who pitched for the Dodgers briefly in 2009, loaded the bases with none out in the sixth. Working very slowly, he got Carroll to hit into a force out at the plate and then struck out Ely and Paul to end the threat.
Ely allowed a run in the top of the seventh but Ron Belisario recorded a strikeout to end the Brewer's inning. Hong-Chih Kuo blew Milwaukee away in the eighth, recording a pair of strikeouts, and turned the ball and the game over to Broxton.
Seeing action for the first time in six days and with a 3-1 lead, Broxton promptly allowed two runs on four hits in the ninth, the final two RBI singles coming with two out, let Ely's win and his second save slip through his fingers for his second blown save.
To give Broxton his due, with two on an two out, a soft line drive just cleared Carroll's glove at short to drive in the first run and a ground ball up the middle that was unplayable allowed the second run to score.
Milwaukee reliever LaTroy Hawkins took over in the ninth and Carroll greeted him with his second hit of the game. After pinch-hitter Garret Anderson lined to center, Paul singled and Matt Kemp walked to set the stage for Ethier.
With what was left of the 38,456 fans in attendance on their feet, Ethier nailed a 2-2 fastball and ripped it on a line over the fence in dead center.
It was his 10th home run of the year to go with 30 RBIs and a .371 average.
"With the opportunities he's had and as many times as he's done it, I don't remember anybody being as heroic as him of all the guys I managed," Torre said after the game.
The heroics by Paul (two hits, an rbi, a sliding catch in left field to end an inning and a stolen base) and Ely, the two young players may be "rewarded" with a plane ticket back to Albuquerque when Jeff Weaver (Friday) and Manny Ramirez (Saturday) come off the disabled list and roster spots are needed.
"I don't know," Torre said when asked about the status of the two rookies. "We'll figure it out tomorrow." Both Paul and Ely have options available. If they are kept on the roster, the Dodgers might well lose whomever is send down to make room.
"If I go down, I'll just go and keep throwing the ball," said Ely. "What else can you do? I knew coming up it wasn't a permanent thing."
Paul had the same attitude. "I don't let it affect me," he said. "I approach every game like it might be my last. Going down is the last thing I think about."
Robin Roberts Dead at 83
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who beat the Dodgers 4-1 on the final day of the 1950 season to avoid a tie and clinch the National League pennant, died Thursday in Florida due to natural causes.
Dodger Blue Notes
--Los Angeles improved to 12-16 and 5.5 back of San Francisco who took over the Division lead after San Diego lost to Colorado, the Dodgers next opponent. ...Ely was 32-16 with a 3.71 in the minor leagues, where he started 69 of 70 games after being chosen in the third round of the 2007 draft by the White Sox. … The Brewers have never swept a series from the Dodgers. The Dodgers are 40-24 (.625) against the Brewers, including a 22-12 mark at Dodger Stadium. Milwaukee and Los Angeles didn't play each other until 1998, when the Brew Crew moved to the National League Central after spending their first 29 seasons (1969-97) in the American League East and Central. ...One year ago, the Dodgers' 10-3 victory over the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium established a modern-day Major League Baseball record with 13 consecutive home wins to start the season, surpassing the old mark of 12 by the 1911 Detroit Tigers at Bennett Park. Los Angeles had established a franchise record with its 10-0 start, one better than the 1946 Brooklyn club at Ebbets Field. Los Angeles is 7-5 at home this year. ...After going 2-for-4, Ethier leads the National League with a .371 average, 10 home runs, 30 RBI and a .712 slugging percentage and is tied for third with a .442 on-base percentage. Since 2006, the Dodgers are 56-18 (.757) when Ethier homers and 265-267 when he doesn't. ...Manny Ramirez was 0-for-1 in his second rehab game for Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore.
Andre Ethier was up to his old tricks again, crushing a shot well over the center field wall with the score tied and the bases loaded in the last of the ninth, but rookies John Ely's and Xavier Paul's efforts before the dramatic hit were all important in a 7-3 win over Milwaukee, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Away it goes ... Ethier's game-winning grand slam