Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier hits a run-scoring single in the fifth… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )
As Jerry Sands' double bounded through the gap toward the right-center field wall in the fifth inning, driving in two runs, the rookie's parents and grandfather stood and roared along with the rest of the Dodger Stadium crowd.
They barely had time to get back on their seats when the next batter, Andre Ethier, had them standing again with a hard liner at the shortstop that went for a hit, driving in Sands and extending Ethier's hitting streak to 28 games.
And a solid outing by starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw gave them even more to celebrate as the Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs, 5-2, ending a losing streak at two games and climbing back to .500 at 15-15.
Ethier's hit put him only three hits shy of tying the franchise's record of 31 games held by Willie Davis. The major league record is 56 games by the New York Yankees' Joe DiMaggio in 1941.
The longest hitting streak in Brooklyn history was 29 games by Zack Wheat of the Brooklyn Robins in 1916.
"I'm just going up there, trying to execute and figure out a way to get the job done," Ethier said.
Asked whether he was feeling more pressure as the streak lengthened, Ethier replied, "No. I'm not going to press in the first at-bat or the last at-bat" of each game.
Sands' two-run double was a welcome boost for the highly touted 23-year-old who has struggled since being called up to the major leagues last month. He began the game batting only .190, but five of his eight hits had been doubles.
So it was again in the fifth inning. Rod Barajas doubled and, one out later, Kershaw struck out. But the last strike from Cubs starter James Russell was a wild pitch and Kershaw made it safely to first base while Barajas moved to third base.
Jamey Carroll tried a squeeze bunt but Russell, a reliever pressed to start because Chicago's rotation is hobbled, shoveled the ball to catcher Geovany Soto to get Barajas at the plate. Then came Sands' double, driving in Kershaw and Carroll.
"It's nice to get those big hits in big situations, but for me right now it's just getting hits when I can," Sands said.
Kershaw also bounced back after laboring in his previous three starts, in which he gave up 12 runs in 182/3 innings.
On Monday, Kershaw gave up two runs and eight hits — including a solo home run to Alfonso Soriano, his 11th this season — in seven innings. The left-hander didn't walk anyone and improved to 3-3.
"Tonight was a battle" because the Cubs "were swinging the bats early" in each count, Kershaw said. "They were super aggressive."
Vicente Padilla and Jonathan Broxton held the Cubs scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, with Broxton getting his seventh save.
The Dodgers scored their first two runs in the second inning when Matt Kemp singled, stole second base and scored on Juan Uribe's double.
Uribe also scored when Ivan De Jesus Jr. hit a line drive down the right-field line that was touched by a fan leaning over the railing, and the interference required De Jesus to stop at first base.