LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Dodgers weathered the storm caused by Manny Ramirez’s(notes) 50-game drug suspension last year and won their second straight NL West title. So they are confident they can carry on without an injured Andre Ethier(notes).
The Dodgers extended their winning streak to nine games with a 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night. Ramirez, James Loney(notes) and Casey Blake(notes) led the way with two RBIs apiece.
The victory was the 14th in 17 games for the Dodgers, who placed Ethier on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured right pinky he sustained four days earlier while taking swings in the indoor batting cage at San Diego’s Petco Park.
“Obviously it hurts, but every team goes through adversity like this,” Blake said. “You hate to see it happen with one of the best hitters in our lineup. It just changes the dynamic of the lineup a little bit, but we’ve got guys who can step in. We’ve showed in the last few nights that we still have guys in the lineup who can hit.”
Ethier, who leads the majors with a .392 average and 38 RBIs, went on the DL for the first time in his five-year career just hours before the sellout crowd of 55,662 received bobblehead dolls with his likeness as they entered the ballpark.
“He’s just as much of a threat up there as Manny is,” catcher Russell Martin(notes) said. “We’re definitely losing a guy who can produce runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark. Obviously, you’d rather have him in the lineup. But if you don’t, you do what you can and try to pick each other up. I think if we keep pitching and doing what we’ve been doing through this stretch here, we’re going to keep winning games.”
All three Houston runs were driven in by Carlos Lee(notes), whose first three-RBI game of the season included a solo homer. But the Astros finished their eight-game road trip with five straight losses after a three-game sweep at St. Louis. They have dropped 16 of its last 21 altogether, and are an NL-worst 13-26.
Bud Norris(notes) (2-5) gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks over 4 1-3 innings in his first career appearance against the Dodgers. The right-hander was struck on the back of his pitching arm and just above the elbow by a line-drive single off the bat of Matt Kemp(notes) with two out in the third and the score tied 3-all. He faced eight more batters and departed after giving a Ramirez’s two-run single.
“It started to tighten up, but I wanted to stay out there and pitch and help my team,” Norris said. “I battled through it as best I could. But that team’s hot and they’re swinging the bats well.”
The Dodgers took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when Loney drew a leadoff walk and scored on Jamey Carroll’s(notes) sacrifice fly. They extended the margin to 6-3 on Ramirez’s hit, and Blake hit his fourth homer of the season in the eighth against Jeff Fulchino(notes).
Los Angeles scored three in the first after Norris retired his first two batters. Ramirez walked on a 3-2 pitch, Kemp hit a ground-rule double into the right field corner, Loney hit a two-run single and Blake singled home another.
“When I go through stretches where I’m more consistent with my timing, I’m going to hit the ball better,” said Blake, who came in batting just .159 since hitting two home runs on April 24 at Washington. “The way I hit requires pretty good timing. Hitting is timing, and when you don’t have it, you’re going to go through some rough stretches and start doubting yourself.
“It’s a battle I’ve had pretty much my whole career here,” Blake added. “I’ve gone down the path where I’ve sat up in bed and night and just brooded over it. I drove myself crazy and lost a lot of hours of sleep thinking about my swing and lack of success. Now I’m trying to stay patient and confident and know that things are going to turn around.”
NOTES: Astros C Humberto Quintero(notes) threw out Kemp trying to steal second base in the third. Kemp already has been caught stealing eight times in 14 attempts, matching the number of times he was thrown out last season when he stole 34 bases. … Lee’s three RBIs matched the total he had in 36 at-bats over his previous 10 games. The home run was his first at Dodger Stadium since May 7, 2006, when he hit a solo shot for the Milwaukee Brewers against Jonathan Broxton(notes). … Martin singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, one more than his previous best in 2007. … Astros 2B Kaz Matsui was 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 20 at-bats.