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Dodgers keep winning despite growing disabled list

Mark Ellis is the latest to be sidelined because of an injury but the club continues to do well with backups in the lineup.

May 19, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Mark Ellis goes flying after colliding with St. Louis Cardinals runner Tyler Greene.
Mark Ellis goes flying after colliding with St. Louis Cardinals runner… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

It happens, just forget the logic. Forget what common sense dictates, what seems utterly reasonable.

Sometimes good teams watch their top player go down and just keep rolling. The Dodgers lost Manny Ramirez to a 50-game drug suspension in 2009 and, by the time he came back, had actually increased their lead by half a game.

Now Matt Kemp has joined a burgeoning Dodgers disabled list — it increased to eight Saturday when Mark Ellis was added because of an unspecified leg injury — and early on, the Dodgers are still winning.

The Dodgers continue to have the best record in the majors and have won three of their first five games without Kemp and have maintained their six-game division lead in the National League West.

Andre Ethier said the team has continued to win without Kemp and the others because a winning culture already has been established on the club.

"One of the coaches said winning is contagious and losing is contagious and it's tough to reverse either one," Ethier said. "It helps that we were winning going into it. I bet if we were losing going into it, it probably would have been a lot more detrimental.

"We had the feeling, we know the feeling. We knew we lost someone and it wasn't something we could control or complain about. Let's just figure out how we can get it done for two weeks. If we're on the up when he comes back, then we really know we're going good."

The Dodgers could be helped in their pursuit by a division so far devoid of a serious challenger. Their six-game lead is the largest in the big leagues.

And it's not like the other NL West teams have been immune to injury.

The San Diego Padres have 13 players on the DL, including closer Huston Street, outfielder Carlos Quentin and three starting pitchers. The Arizona Diamondbacks are without starter Daniel Hudson and shortstop Stephen Drew. The Colorado Rockies are minus three starting pitchers. And the San Francisco Giants are down closer Brian Wilson, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said that regardless of what lineup he cobbles together, he remains confident the team will win.

"You just feel like you're going to win every day," Mattingly said. "Our pitching is pretty healthy. Really no matter what club we put out there, we've caught the ball pretty good.

"And we've shown we can scratch out some runs. Guys have battled. We're trying to weather the storm and will slowly get our guys back."

His recent lineups have been without four regulars. Saturday, he benched struggling shortstop Dee Gordon and he wrote out a lineup featuring five players who normally don't start. And so far, they've continued to roll.

"I think it's kind of a testament to the whole team buying into a frame of mind and a style we're going to play," Ethier said. "Obviously, we have key guys who are going to make this thing go and be the meat of it, but I guess when a little bit falls off, guys are going to figure out a way to keep things going and patch it up."

They'll have more patching to do with Ellis down.

Ellis injured his left leg Friday night against St. Louis. The Cardinals' Tyler Greene slid hard but cleanly into second base to break up a double play. He hit Ellis and flipped him in the air.

Saturday, the Dodgers put Ellis on the DL without specifying which part of his leg was injured. They said he had an MRI exam but the results were still being evaluated.

"This is a tough guy to replace," Mattingly said.

Ellis was batting .273, was second on the team in runs and had yet to commit an error. The Dodgers called up infielderIvan De Jesus Jr.to fill Ellis' spot on the roster.

sports@latimes.com

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