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James McDonald to stay in Dodgers rotation

DODGERS FYI

He gets his second start of the season this afternoon against Colorado.

April 20, 2009|Bill Shaikin

Your National League leader in runs batted in: Andre Ethier.

"It's a neat thing," Ethier said.

Ethier jumped ahead of Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick of the St. Louis Cardinals, with three runs batted in Sunday giving him 16 in the Dodgers' 13 games this season. In the six-game homestand that concluded Sunday, Ethier hit .391 and drove in 12 runs.

Every week will not be quite so productive, but Dodgers Manager Joe Torre expected run production when he installed Ethier as his cleanup hitter this season, batting behind Manny Ramirez.

"It's flattering, because we have such great players on this team that can fill that role, and he chooses me to do that," Ethier said.

He said he hoped to drive in 100 runs, which would make him the first Dodger to do so since J.D. Drew in 2006.

Daily double

Scott Elbert took one game ball home Sunday. He deserved two, since he earned his first major league win and got his first major league hit.

The ball that adorned his locker was the one he hit for a double, in his second career at-bat. The victory -- earned with 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter James McDonald -- was a long time coming.

The Dodgers selected Elbert, 23, in the first round of the 2004 draft, then signed him for $1.575 million. The left-hander underwent shoulder surgery in June 2007 and rehabilitated so well he got back to double A in 12 months and climbed to the major leagues two months after that.

"You've got to work hard to get here," he said. "It doesn't come just by signing your name on the dotted line."

Oh, man

Will Ohman hasn't made an out in eight years, and his career batting average is .500. Yet he insists he won't shy away from another chance to hit.

"I've never been one to sit on my stats," Ohman said, failing to suppress a grin. "My path to the Hall of Fame as a hitter is dependent on my continuing to go out and do my work."

The reliever got the first run batted in of his career Saturday. Manny Mota, the Dodgers coach and pinch-hitting legend, autographed a congratulatory gift box of rum and presented it to Ohman on Sunday.

Ohman, who made his major league debut in 2000, went hitless in two at-bats in 2001. In three plate appearances since, he singled in 2006, walked last year and singled Saturday.

No runs, no win

McDonald has started twice this season and failed to last five innings either time. The Dodgers led, 4-0, after four innings on Sunday, with McDonald needing three outs to qualify for the victory, but he started the fifth inning by walking Colorado pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

McDonald did not allow a run in his 4 1/3 innings, but he did not survive because he made 96 pitches. He has faced 37 batters and walked six this season. He worked exclusively in relief last season, facing 24 batters and walking one.

Juggling act

The Dodgers juggled their rotation so Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley could start on regular rest in this week's series in Houston. Clayton Kershaw starts the series opener Tuesday, with Eric Stults bumped to Friday at Colorado and McDonald slated to follow Saturday.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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Plucky 13

Best starts after 13 games in L.A. Dodgers history:

*--* Start Year Finish 11-2 1981 63-47*** 11-2 2005 71-91 10-3 1977 98-64** 10-3 2009 ? 9-4 1969 85-77 9-4 1972 85-70 9-4 1974 102-60** 9-4 1983 91-71* 9-4 1988 94-67*** 9-4 1997 88-74 9-4 2004 93-69* 9-4 2007 82-80 *--*

*-Won NL West

**-Won NL pennant

***-Won World Series

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