'Rely on Ely' New Dodgers Rallying Cry

The Dodgers obtained John Ely, along with reliever Jon Link, for veteran outfielder Juan Pierre in what at the time looked like a salary dump. But it has become much more than that when Ely won his third game in five starts, stopping Detroit 6-4 with the help of home runs by Casey Blake and Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers have won a remarkable 12 of their last 13 games, moving from last to first in the National League West, and improving to a Major League-best 16-4 in the month of May. They are also 15-7 at home and leads the N.L. in home wins.

Ely (3-1) allowed two runs and eight hits while pitching into the seventh inning and struck out three. The 24-year-old rookie snapped a string of 89 consecutive batters without allowing a walk when he passed Brandon Inge on four pitches in the first inning.

He then retired the next nine Tigers in a row and didn't let another runner get past second base.

"There's not a point where you can let up against that lineup. Every single one of them can burn you, so you really have to focus, top to bottom," Ely said after the game. "Coming back and putting up zeros after being a little bit shaky in the first inning was a huge confidence boost—for myself and the team."

He recorded his fourth straight quality start, and with his win four members of the Dodgers' starting rotation (Ely, Hiroki Kuroda, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley) now have active three-game winning streaks.

Casey Blake, replete with a re-grown beard, slugged his third home run in five games and has hit .478 (11-for-23) with a double, three homers and six RBI through the first six games of the current homestand. Blake recorded his fifth three-hit game of the season, which ranks third on the club behind James Loney (7) and Andre Ethier (6).

Matt Kemp went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and a solo home run and leads the Majors with 38 runs scored in 43 games and Blake DeWitt took over the team lead with three triples with his two-run shot in the fourth inning.

However, Russell Martin went 0-for-3 with a walk, which ended his career-long 15-game hitting streak. Martin tied Johnny Damon for the second-longest hitting streak in the Majors this year behind Jorge Cantu's Major League-best 17-game streak.

  Following Ely to the mound, lefty Hong-Chih Kuo celebrated Taiwan Day at Dodger Stadium by turning in his 10th consecutive scoreless outing and tossing 1.0 scoreless frame to bring his scoreless innings streak to 9.0, a season high for Dodger relievers. Opponents are hitting just .094 (3-for-32) against Kuo in 11 appearances.

  Ramon Troncoso and Jeff Weaver shared the eighth inning before Jonathan Broxton closed the game out by going a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities in the Dodgers' last 15 games after picking up just one save in the club's first 28 games. Broxton now has 10 saves and moved past Tom Niedenfuer (64) into ninth place on the all-time Dodger saves chart, Broxton is eighth on the L.A. list.

  Tigers Take the Lead in First
Detroit tapped Ely for a pair of runs in the first inning on a pair of doubles and a single, plus his first walk in four starts. in the Dodgers' last 15 games.

Los Angeles got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning when Martin walked and Xavier Paul beat out a perfect bunt. Martin moved to third when first baseman Miguel Cabrera fumbled the throw. Manny Ramirez's sacrifice fly allowed him to score.

Blake led off the second with his home run to tie the game. L.A. scored three in the fourth on a Kemp double, James Loney's RBI single, Blake's one-base hit and DeWitt's two-run triple.

Kemp added his ninth home run in the fifth to end the Dodgers offense for the evening.

Kuo took over in the seventh after Ely gave up a leadoff single. He worked around a two-out error and a walk to record a scoreless inning. Blake booted Ramon Santiago's grounder at third base and Kuo loaded the bases to put the potential tying run at the plate.

Then he a slow bouncer down the third-base line and threw to first for the third out, much to the delight of those the sold out My Town Taiwan section banged away with their thunder sticks. "I just tried to go out there and focus," said Kuo. "The day was good for Taiwan, it's a beautiful island."

Troncoso relieved him in the eighth and served up a home run to dead center by Brennan Boesch. Brad Inge walked and after a double play, rookie Austin Jackson in the helmet, dropping him at home plate.

Manager Manager Jim Leyland and the trainer Kevin Rand rushed to his aid and after a time, Jackson was able to walk it to the dugout under his own power and was replaced by a pinch-runner. He was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests.

The game was scheduled for late in the day and the shadows between the mound and home plate made it tough for hitters to pick up the spin of the ball.

"It was one of those pitches you just can't get out of the way of, especially when a sinker like Troncoso throws it in that spot and it's running in on you," Leyland said. "I'm sure it just got away from him, but we're thankful that Austin's all right. I saw him when he came into the dugout and again before he left, and he said he said he was fine." Jackson was hitting .337 with 11 RBIs in 42 games.

Weaver finished the inning and handed the game over to Broxton in the ninth, who was pitching for the third day in succession. He allowed a pair of singles before Blake, whose error in the seventh snapped a season-long eight-game errorless, made a diving stop and threw to second for the second out.

Boesch's double scored one and put the potential tying run at second base but Broxton caught Inge looking on a 2-2 count to end the game.

Furcal, Ethier On The Mend
Shortstop Rafael Furcal is nearly ready to be activated from the disabled list. When asked about his return and the resulting roster moved, Torre mentioned Blake DeWitt, who still has options and would not have to clear waivers. DeWitt won the starting second-base job out of Spring Training and is batting .274 with 11 RBIs. He has yet to homer and has 10 extra-base hits.

"We have Green, who came up, or DeWitt, who has an option," Torre said. "DeWitt's done well, no question, so it's just a matter of what road do you want to take in the immediate future?"

Green has had only eight at-bats since he was called up, and he had his only hit Friday in a 4-1 win over the Tigers. Over seven seasons, he's a career .238 hitter in the Majors.

After Furcal played a game at Extended Spring in Arizona, Torre said the team would decide today whether to activate Furcal before the game with the Tigers.

"Things went good, now we wait to see how he feels," Torre said. "He played enough to convince that everybody that was watching that it was a good test for him."

Ethier been hitting off a tee and appears ahead of schedule. He went on the disabled list May 15.

"He's doing some stick work, so that's good," Torre said. "He stayed off the tee, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed. He'll do what he can do and we'll see at the end of two weeks where we are. He seems to be doing more than they thought he'd be able to do at this point."

Dodger Blue Notes --After its weekend series against Detroit, Los Angeles has a day off and then leaves on a six-game road trip to battle the Cubs and Rockies. ...Los Angeles has won 12 of its last 13 games to pass San Diego for first place in the National League West after picking up 6.0 games in the standings since the start of play of May 9. ...Going into the Saturday game,  the Dodgers' pitching staff has limited opponents to a .202 batting average (78-for-386) and posted a 2.42 ERA (29 ER/108.0 IP) since May 8, both Major League bests in that span. The Dodgers also lead the National League with 103 strikeouts since May 9. ...Joe Torre received a call yesterday from astronaut Garrett Reisman at the International Space Station, where he has Torre's 2000 World Series ring and current jersey. While Torre has no intergalactic wins, he does have the most Interleague wins of any manager with a 129-98 record. ...Bench coach Bob Schaefer celebrated his birthday. ...The Dodgers hosted two members of West London's Chelsea Football Club's coaching staff, assistant coach Paul Clement and trainer Chris Jones, who will be studying different aspects of the Dodgers' organization for best practices that can be applied to their club. Nicknamed "The Blues," Chelsea won both the F.A. Cup and the Premier League Championship last season. ...Today's starters will be RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 5.93) for the Dodgers and RHP Hiroki Kuroda (5-1, 2.87).  

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