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Casey Blake out of Dodgers' lineup against Nationals

He cites tightness in his hamstring. Blake DeWitt takes his place tonight.

September 25, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

WASHINGTON — Andre Ethier has won several games with his bat.

Thursday night, he won one with his glove.

Ethier preserved the Dodgers' 7-6 lead over the Washington Nationals, fielding an eighth-inning single by Ian Desmond and throwing a one-hopper from right field to the plate to nail Willie Harris, who was trying to score from second.

Harris tried to bowl over catcher Russell Martin, but Martin held on to the ball.

"It's like we have Jay Buhner," Manny Ramirez said, referring to the former Seattle Mariners right fielder with a cannon arm.

Ethier said he and center fielder Matt Kemp aligned themselves in a way that would allow him to make that play.

"I signaled to him that I was going to move in a couple of steps so he had more responsibility in the gap," Ethier said. "Probably five, six seconds before that at-bat, I took a couple of steps in. I was on my toes coming in and charged hard."

This was Ethier's second game-saving defensive play of the season. On Sept. 1, he went into the wall at Dodger Stadium to catch a ball hit by Arizona's Brandon Allen in the eighth inning to preserve a 4-3 victory.

"Like Juan Pierre says, 'Both sides of the ball,' " Ethier said.

Kemp reaches the century mark

By driving a pitch from J.D. Martin into the seats well over the wall in left-center in the first inning, Matt Kemp drove in his 98th, 99th and 100th runs of the season.

Kemp inflicted damage on the Nationals before the game was over, falling a double short of a cycle on a three-for-five night. He scored his second run in the fifth inning after reaching base on a fielding error by left fielder Josh Willingham.

Kemp was playful when asked if he was thinking about the cycle when he went up to the plate in the eighth inning for his last at-bat. Kemp flew out to center.

"Were you thinking cycle right there?" Kemp asked.

Told yes, Kemp replied, "Then I was thinking the same thing you were thinking . . . not."

Kemp smiled.

He admitted that the 100-RBI plateau was something special to him, noting that the most runs he ever drove in in any season as a professional was 90 in Class A of the minor leagues.

If Kemp can finish the season batting .300 -- he is hitting .306 -- he will be the first player in Dodgers history to bat .300, hit 25 home runs, drive in 100 runs and steal 30 bases in a season.

Traveling like the rest of us . . . kind of

Traveling secretary Scott Akasaki had to make special arrangements to get the Dodgers to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The site of the Dodgers' upcoming series is also the site of the G-20 summit, which has resulted in an increased security presence.

Traveling from city to city is a relatively painless process for the Dodgers. The players, coaches and their luggage are often screened at the ballpark they are about to depart. They are taken by buses directly to the planes that will take them to their destination.

But a ban on incoming private charter flights to Pittsburgh was imposed by the Secret Service, and Major League Baseball had to receive a special waiver so the Dodgers could get into town. The waiver was granted under the condition that the Dodgers would have to go through TSA lines at Washington Dulles Airport and have their bags sniffed by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Akasaki told players that they couldn't carry alcohol or cologne in their carry-on baggage.

Because the various checkpoints could make the bus ride to the ballpark today a serious hassle, Akasaki booked rooms at a hotel on the outskirts of the designated security zones instead of at the regular team hotel in the heart of downtown. But there is expected to be added security in the new hotel, as it is housing the French, German and Turkish delegations at the G-20.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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