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Dodgers don't use excuses on field

They get little rest before their game, but Ethier starts a six-run third inning, and Uribe has two hits and four RBIs in the victory.

April 23, 2011|Dylan Hernandez

CHICAGO — With everything that has happened in the last few days, was it nice for the Dodgers to get out of Los Angeles?

Don Mattingly laughed.

"Are you kidding me?" the manager said.

Temperatures at Dodger Stadium were in the 60s and 70s during the Dodgers' recently completed home stand. When Casey Coleman of the Chicago Cubs threw the first pitch in what turned out to be a 12-2 victory for the Dodgers on Friday, the thermometer at Wrigley Field read 41 degrees.

But what pleased Mattingly was that the team was taking shape the way he had hoped it would. When he talked in spring training about being a club that wouldn't make excuses, this was exactly the kind of day he had in mind.

The game was scheduled for a 1:20 p.m. start and the Dodgers didn't get to their hotel room until after midnight the previous night. The first pitch was delayed by 1 hour 14 minutes because of rain.

"It was an easy day to make excuses and say, 'Why do this?' " Andre Ethier said. "No excuses: That's something you hear around here a lot."

Ethier extended his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games on a single that drove in the first run of a six-run third inning that put the Dodgers ahead, 6-0.

But Mattingly said that, in his mind, the key to the inning was the second run-scoring hit, a two-out single to center field by Juan Uribe.

"He gets that hit with two outs, it opens the whole inning up," Mattingly said.

Coleman never made it out of the inning. The 23-year-old right-hander, who started the season at triple-A Iowa, was charged with six runs and six hits in 22/3 innings.

The day was an important one for Uribe, who was signed by the Dodgers to a three-year, $21-million contract over the winter.

Uribe, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to increase the Dodgers' lead to 8-0, was two for four, increasing his season average to .236. He began the game batting .221.

"You saw it coming," Mattingly said. "We talked about it for the last few days. Yesterday, he was right on some balls. Today, he got big hits."

Uribe has at least one hit in his last six games and was 10 for 31 in the Dodgers' eight-game home stand that was completed Thursday.

Uribe, who batted behind cleanup hitter Matt Kemp, said his turnaround was a result of improved selectivity.

"I tried to hit bad pitches," Uribe said. "Now, I'm more relaxed. I'm making them pitch more balls to me."

Ethier said he liked the idea of how Uribe could protect him and Kemp.

"Uribe's a big key there, backing up me and Matty," he said.

Backed by early run support, Chad Billingsley improved to 2-1 by holding the Cubs to two runs (one earned) and seven hits over 61/3 innings.

Billingsley was struck by a comebacker in the fifth inning by Starlin Castro.

Where was he hit?

"Right in the butt cheek," he said.

Not a bad place to be hit, right?

"No, because I can't sit down," he said, smiling.

Friday also marked the return of Vicente Padilla, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list but did not pitch.

He was less than two months removed from an arm operation to release a nerve that was entrapped by one of the deep muscles in his forearm.

The opening-day starter last season, Padilla will pitch out of the bullpen.


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