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A.J. Ellis' three-run homer in ninth inning keeps Dodgers rolling

Catcher helps snap a three-game losing streak with his fifth home run of the year in a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros.

May 26, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • A.J. Ellis hits a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
A.J. Ellis hits a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give… (Bret Hartman / Associated…)

One is the loneliest number, with six you get egg roll, two is better than one. Not sure what you get with three, but the Dodgers have no interest in finding out.

For the fourth time this season, the Dodgers were faced with a three-game losing streak. And for the fourth time, they batted it away.

Of course, they had the legend of A.J. Ellis  on their side.

Ellis, a growing story this spring, hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Dodgers to a 6-3 victory over the Astros on Saturday before an announced crowd of 36,561.

For Ellis, it marked his fifth home run of the season, or three more than he managed during parts of his previous four seasons.

But this is the first time the Dodgers have turned over their everyday catching duties to the 31 year old, and he has responded beyond their wildest dreams. He is hitting .317 and becoming an emerging leader on the club.

Ellis enabled the Dodgers to remain the only team in the major leagues yet to lose three consecutive games. In the three previous times the Dodgers were faced with a three-game losing streak, they won to start at least a three-game winning streak.

Their victory Saturday pushed their baseball-best record to 31-16 and their lead in the National League West to a season-high 7½ games over the Giants.

And they managed it against arguably the hottest pitcher in the majors. Houston right-hander Bud Norris was 4-0 in May with a 0.35 earned-run average.

The Astros started his night well enough when they scored single runs for Norris in the first and second innings off Chad Billingsley.

They opened the game with another double from Jose Altuve, his third in two nights, and a run-scoring single from Carlos Lee.

Billingsley got into serious trouble in the second when the Astros loaded the bases with no outs and he issued a one-out walk to Jordan Schafer to force in a run. Still, he avoided further damage by striking out Altuve and getting J.D. Martinez to line out to Andre Ethier in right field.

Billingsley pitched out of some two-out trouble in the third inning before settling down. He retired his last seven batters before leaving after five innings.

By then Dodgers had a 3-2 lead. Ethier extended his NL-leading RBI total to 41 with a run-scoring single in the third, then the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on  Tony Gwynn Jr.’s two-run single off Norris in the fourth.

The Dodgers thought they were headed for a 3-2 victory when the Astros pushed across a tying run in the eighth inning. Ronald Belisario, who had not allowed a run in nine outings this season, issued a pair of two-out walks and Manager Don Mattingly called on closer Kenley Jansen to get the four-out save.

But catcher Jason Castro doubled off the glove of a diving Jerry Hairston Jr. at third to score the tying run.


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