LOS ANGELES (AP) – Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 28 games with an infield single that capped a three-run fifth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 on Monday night.
Clayton Kershaw (3-3) pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and eight hits, including Alfonso Soriano’s major league-leading 11th homer leading off the seventh. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out four and did not walk a batter for the first time in seven starts this season.
Vicente Padilla pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Broxton did likewise in the ninth for his sixth save in seven attempts.
Ethier, halfway to the record 56-game streak Joe DiMaggio had in 1941, kept his alive with a grounder to deep shortstop that Starlin Castro couldn’t make a play on. The All-Star right fielder is three games shy of the Dodgers franchise record, set by Willie Davis in 1969.
Ethier is batting .393 during his streak with three homers and 17 RBIs, a stretch in which the Dodgers have gone 13-15. Davis’ streak included all 28 games he played in August and his first three games in September. He batted .435 during that stretch with one homer and 23 RBIs, while the Dodgers went 13-18.
The closest anyone has come to DiMaggio’s streak since he eclipsed Wee Willie Keeler’s 45-gamer was Pete Rose, who hit in 44 straight in 1978 before it was stopped by Atlanta’s trio of Larry McWilliams, Dave Campbell and Gene Garber.
James Russell (1-4) gave up five runs – four earned – and six hits over 4 2-3 innings in his fourth major league start, dropping the Cubs’ record to 0-10 when their starters fail to reach the sixth. The rookie left-hander, inserted into the rotation because of an injury to No. 5 starter Andrew Cashner, is 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in that role.
One consolation for Russell: He got his first big league hit with a single in the second inning.
The Cubs, who hadn’t faced a left-handed starter or reliever since last Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Colorado’s Jorge de la Rosa, opened the scoring in the first against Kershaw with a two-out RBI double by Geovany Soto after the team went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position during Sunday’s 4-3 loss at Arizona.
Until then, the Dodgers were the only team in the majors that hadn’t allowed a first-inning run at home.
The Dodgers pulled ahead with two runs in the second. Matt Kemp singled, stole second and came home when Juan Uribe got the green light from rookie manager Don Mattingly on a 3-0 pitch and doubled over the head of right fielder Reed Johnson. Rookie Ivan DeJesus Jr., whose father played shortstop for the Cubs and Dodgers, drove in Uribe with a single inside first base.
The Dodgers didn’t get another hit until the fifth, when Rod Barajas led off with a double and rookie Jerry Sands hit a two-run double. Ethier chased Russell with his RBI single.
NOTES: Sunday night’s spontaneous chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” by fans at the Mets-Phillies game after they got word of Osama bin Laden’s death brought back poignant memories for Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday. He elicited a similar reaction from the Dodger Stadium crowd in 1976, when it burst into a chorus of “God Bless America” right after he snatched a flag away from two protesters who attempted to set fire to it in the outfield while he was playing for the Cubs. “I did not have the game on last night, but I saw the replay of what the people did and I got chills watching it – not as a flashback on what I did, but because of what we’re doing right now as a country,” said Monday, who spent six years in the Marine Corps reserves. “On 9/11, we got really close. And to see the reaction of what took place last night (everywhere in the country), and then to see it carry over to today does not surprise me at all. I’m glad we’re coming together as one again.” … Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, who turns 34 on Tuesday, will be pitching on his birthday for the first time in 14 big league seasons when he opposes RHP Chad Billingsley. Dempster is 7-3 with a 2.81 career ERA against the Dodgers in 23 appearances, including 13 starts.
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