Ethier's Found a Home in L.A.

It was supposed to be a temporary job. Outfielder Andre Ethier had been called up May 2 when Ricky Ledee was injured and the youngster got the call to fill. Now nearly a month later it looks like Ethier is up to stay after he homered early in the game, then knocked in the winning run in the eighth as the Dodgers took the second game of the series from Atlanta 8-3.

Ethier was received from Oakland for the vastly talented but unhappy Milton Bradley and a hitter without a position, Antonio Perez.

Tuesday night Ethier slugged a three-run homer with two outs in the fourth inning and poked what turned out to be a game-winning, RBI single through the left side of the infield with two outs in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie.

Ethier went 2-for-4, boosting his average for his four weeks in the big leagues to .313, his on-base percentage to .390 and his RBI total to 12. Bradley, who is hitting .246, is on Oakland's disabled list with a sprained right knee and Perez one hit in 28 at-bats for an average of .036 and an on-base percentage of .129.

Dodgers (30-22) moved a season-high eight games above .500, but remained a half-game behind division-leading Arizona in the National League West.

Aaron Sele gave the Dodgers another quality start, but it was reliever Danys Baez (3-2) who benefitted from Ethier's heroics. He shut out the Braves in the seventh and eighth innings while the Dodgers scored two runs in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie and added three more in the ninth to ice the deal.

In the fourth with the score tied 1-1 on J.D. Drew's RBI single, Ethier connected on a long drive into the Atlanta bullpen in right field to put the Dodgers ahead 3-1. It was Ethier's fourth home run of his 30-day season.

Then, with runners at first and second in the eighth, Manager Grady Little allowed Ethier to face veteran lefty reliever Mike Remlinger (2-3) even though the left-handed hitting youngster was just 1-for-7 against lefties. Ethier worked the count to 2-2, then went the other way to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

"Ethier showed a lot in Spring Training, but what he's been able to do up here has been amazing," said Little after the game. "We have a lot of confidence in the kid and it showed when we left him in there against Remlinger. He showed in Spring Training, he doesn't budge against lefties and he stays in there. That's very impressive for a young guy."

Ethier came up again in the ninth, with Willy Aybar on second, but the Braved had had enough of him by that time and he was walked intentionally.

With outfielders Jason Repko and Ricky Ledee due off the DL sometime in the next month, Ethier is sharing time with fellow rookie Matt Kemp, and both young players need to play as regularly as possible.

Nomar Garciaparra, doubled to start the tie-breaking rally, and doubled again in a three-run ninth inning as the Dodgers scored five unanswered runs over the final two innings.

Aybar doubled in a pair of runs in the three-run ninth inning and is hitting .379 in May and .364 overall. He's reached base 23 consecutive games, he has 35 RBI in 34 games and he's batting .463 with runners in scoring position.
  Score by innings
Dodgers 000 300 023-8
Atlanta 100 101 000-3

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      5 0 0 0 .259
Lofton, CF      5 2 2 0 .319
Garciaparra, 1B 5 2 2 1 .364
Drew, RF        4 2 1 1 .283
  Saito, P      0 0 0 0 .000
Aybar, 3B       4 1 1 2 .333
Ethier, LF      4 1 2 3 .313
Martinez, 2B    5 0 2 1 .358
Martin C        4 0 0 0 .264
Sele, P         1 0 1 0 .200
  Cruz, PH      1 0 1 0 .239
  Baez, P       0 0 0 0 .000
  Saenz, PH     1 0 1 0 .316
  Kemp, PR-RF   0 0 0 0 .429
    Totals     39 8 13 8 
    Atlanta    34 3  9 3

  2B: Sele (1), Garciaparra 2 (16), 
Aybar (6). HR: Ethier (4). RBI: 
Drew (37), Ethier 3 (12), 
Martinez (11), Garciaparra (35), 
Aybar 2 (13). S: Sele. LOB: Los 
Angeles 8, Atlanta 9. DP: 
(Garciaparra, Furcal and Garciaparra).
  Dodgers     in h r-er bb so era
Sele         6.0 7  3-3  3 3 2.20
Baez (W,3-2) 2.0 1  0-0  0 1 2.30
Saito        1.0 1  0-0  1 2 2.42
  T: 3:01. Att: 29,517.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Brad Penny, who was furious about being pulled from the first game of the Atlanta series leading 8-5, said his right shoulder was "killing" him. "My shoulder is hurting," said Penny, making that fact public for the first time. "It was killing me my last game, and it was killing me this game. I went out there and pitched hurt. That's the first jam I have been in all year, and I didn't get a chance to get out of it." Little met with Penny Monday to clear the air over Penny's angry outburst after being removed from Monday's game in the fifth inning.… Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne, who was believed to have served his two-game suspension April 4-5 for barking at umpires from the dugout while on the disabled list last season, is serving it again now. Eric Gagne was activated from the disabled list for the first time since undergoing right elbow surgery April 7 but he is sitting out the final two games of this week's series with Atlanta and will rejoin the club when it opens a seven- game homestand Thursday against the Phillies. He sat out two games earlier in the season but when he was retroactively put on the disabled list and negated the earlier move. To make room for Gagne, the Dodgers optioned infielder Oscar Robles, who probably still had his bags packed, to Las Vegas. …Second baseman Jeff Kent missed his third consecutive game with a sprained left wrist, but he swung a bat in the indoor cage and may play tonight in the final game of the Atlanta series. …Florida acquired OF Cody Ross from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named. …First baseman Nomar Garciaparra and Kent are the top vote-getters among the Dodgers in early voting returns for this year's National League All-Star Team. …The deadline passed for the Dodgers to sign last year's first pick, Luke Hochevar, who will re-enter the draft next week. There was no late contact between the club and Hochevar, who could go as high as No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Royals. They did sign a pair of draft-and-follows from last year -- left-handed pitcher Skylar Tripp (20th round) and third baseman Brian Matthews (45th). …Brett Tomko (5-2, 3.86 ERA) opposes Atlanta's Tim Hudson (4-3, 4.12 ERA) in tonight's series finale. Tomko's record:
date   w-l  score opp     in   h r-er w k  era
April  7 W  5-3 at Phil   6.0  8  3-3 1 4 4.50
April 11 ND 5-9 at Pitt   5.0  7  4-3 1 2 5.82
April 23 W  6-4 Arizona   6.0  4  2-1 3 4 4.70
April 29 W  4-2 at SDiego 7.0  5  2-2 0 2 4.20
May    4 ND 0-3 San Diego 7.0  5  0-0 2 9 3.41
May   10 W  9-6  Houston  6.0  8  0-0 1 3 2.93
May   15 W  5-4 at Colo   7.0  5  3-2 1 6 2.88
May   19 ND 8-4 Anaheim   6.0 10  1-1 0 4 3.21
May   26 L 4-10 at Wash   4.2  9  6-6 2 5 3.86