After taking the last two games in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Dodgers headed out to Chicago to face the White Sox. Hiroki Kuroda dominated the South Siders in the first game, to give LA their third straight win.
LA headed home to lick their wounds and prepare to face the Seattle Mariners. If they dropped the opener on Friday, it would be the first time all season the Dodgers would lose three straight games. Instead, Andre Ethier had a different threesome in mind.
Ethier cracked a 1-1 fastball deep into the right-center pavilion in the second inning with Casey Blake and James Loney on base to open the scoring on the evening off Jason Vargas.
In the sixth, with LA holding a 5-2 lead, Ethier took a 1-0 fastball from reliever Roy Corcoran into the right-center pavilion, to give the first homer some company. Russell Martin dented the plate ahead of Andre and the Dodgers were cruising 7-2.
Leading off the eighth inning against Miguel Batista, Ethier worked the count to 3-1, then hooked a deep fly into the Mariner bullpen, feasting off yet another fastball. The solo shot ended the scoring and gave Ethier his first career three-homer game. He expanded his team-leading home run total to 14.
Casey Blake also dialed deep for LA, when leading off the fourth inning, he pulled a 1-1 changeup down the left field line for his 11th tater on the year.
All this power made life easier for Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, who leveled his record at 5-5. Kershaw went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk.
He blew away eight hitters and lowering his season ERA to 3.70 while facing 23 hitters. 64 of his 96 pitches were strikes, a very impressive effort following his excellent start last Sunday night in Anaheim.
Guillermo Mota tossed two innings, conceding nothing to the Mariner hitters while getting Wladimir Balentien looking at 96-mph fastball for his only strikeout of the game.
Ronald Belisario closed out the game, allowing a single to Jose Lopez and striking out one-time Dodger Franklin Gutierrez on a 99-mph fastball.
Matt Cain allowed five runs in seven innings, suffering his second loss against nine victories this year. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo improved to 8-4 and gave up only a first-inning shot to Pablo Sandoval.
Lakers Love Clayton
World Champion Los Angeles Laker center-forward Pau Gasol attended the game, tossing out the opening pitch in pre-game ceremonies.
Last Sunday, Kobe Bryant took in the Dodger-Angel game in Anaheim started by Kershaw, sitting behind the Dodger dugout.
While standing on the rubber, Gasol tossed a tall pitch in to Brad Ausmus, who looked to be happy he did not need to fight for rebounding position to collect the ball.
Kemp Racks Three
Along with Ethier, Dodger centerfielder Matt Kemp enjoyed a three-hit night. His triple leading off the fifth inning was cashed in on a single by Kershaw, his first RBI on the season.
Praise for Beltre
During the fourth inning of the game, Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully commented on former Dodger Adrian Beltre and his fielding prowess.
Scully tossed out a laurel for Beltre, how was the best third baseman ever when it came to charging in to field and throw out a hitter on a swinging bunt. I have no desire to challenge Scully's opinion on the topic.
LA, No. 1 Pick Agree To Terms
Aaron Miller and the Dodgers have agreed on an amount for the signing bonus, a figure just under $900,000. Miller must next pass a physical before the deal can be finalized.
The second game of the Dodger-Mariner series takes place Saturday night with Eric Milton (2-0, 2.89) returning to the wars and facing Felix Hernandez (7-3, 2.74). Your intrepid reporter will be attending the game, which begins at 7:10 P.M. Pacific.