Ethier Perfecting the Walk-Off Hit

Andre Ethier admits that he has never been this clutch in his life and doesn't seem to want to analyze it too much, possibly out of fear it will go away as quickly as it came.

Ethier hit his fourth walk-off home run of the season Tuesday against Pittsburgh, the most for a player in one season at least since 1974. That's as far as STATS, LLC, could track such things.

His six walk-off hits of any kind are also more than anybody has had in one year since that same 1974 season, which, incidentally, was a year the Dodgers went to the World Series.

The last guy to have three walk-off home runs in a season was the Twins' Justin Morneau in 2007. The last to have five walk-off hits in a year were the Red Sox's David Ortiz in 2006, the Twins' Ken Hrbek in 1987 and the Indians' Cory Snyder in 1987.

Ethier must have had a run like this at Arizona State, in high school or in Little League, right?

"This might sound dumb, but I don't think I was that good in Little League or high school," Ethier said. "I didn't start getting good until college. It's been a slow progression to learn myself and what I am capable of doing."

--C Russell Martin not only has been hitting well of late, he must really be anxious for Friday's series opener against the Giants. Martin is batting .462 (6-for-13) in his career against Friday's San Francisco starter, LHP Jonathan Sanchez. Martin has a hit in nine of his last 10 games overall and is batting .333 (7-for-21) over his last five contests.

--RHP Vicente Padilla could solidify his chance to pitch in the National League Division Series, assuming the Dodgers advance, when he faces the Giants on Friday. Padilla is 3-0 in four starts since joining the Dodgers on Aug. 20 and has a 2.01 ERA. In his last start against the Giants on Sept. 12, Padilla did not give up an earned run over six innings and allowed three hits.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton on Wednesday recorded his 35th save of the season in 39 chances. Since Aug. 15, he has not allowed an earned run and has converted all 10 of his save opportunities. Over that stretch he has 29 strikeouts in 18 innings (17 appearances).

--INF Ronnie Belliard continues to produce in the two-plus weeks since he was traded to the Dodgers from the Washington Nationals. With a home run among his three hits Wednesday, Belliard is batting .319 (15-for-47) with the Dodgers, including three home runs and eight RBIs in 13 games. He will return to face his former team Sept 22-24 in a series at Washington.

-- Days the Dodgers held at least a share of the best record in the National League, until they relinquished that honor after a loss Sept. 9 at Arizona. Starting on May 2, when the Dodgers caught the Cardinals for the NL's best mark, they remained on top until the Cardinals grabbed the lead again. Since holding the best record in baseball (56-32) at the All-Star break, the Dodgers went a pedestrian 27-26 heading into last weekend's series at San Francisco.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw will throw a simulated game Saturday or Sunday before the Dodgers face the Giants. Kershaw has been out since slamming his shoulder into the wall chasing a ball during batting practice Sept. 6. Kershaw was first diagnosed with a bruise but that was changed to a separation in his non-throwing shoulder.

--CF Matt Kemp is trying to get into the act of clutch hitting to match teammate Andre Ethier. Kemp had the game-tying RBI with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday and hit the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of Wednesday's victory. He has 94 RBIs, of which nearly one third (30) have come with two out and runners in scoring position.

--3B Casey Blake appears to be ready for the stretch drive with a .500 average (8-for-16) in the five games he has played since returning to the lineup. He had been sidelined due to hamstring tightness. Blake also has a home run, four RBIs and five walks in those five games. He is batting .440 (11-for-25) with nine runs this month.