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Dodgers Notes

Josh Beckett gets a hand (and glove) from Mark Ellis

Second baseman makes a nice play to start a double play before the Dodgers break the game open.

October 01, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

By Josh Beckett's estimation, the most important play in the Dodgers' 7-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday was a third-inning double play started by second baseman Mark Ellis.

"That was huge," Beckett said. "Play of the game for me."

On the play in question, the Rockies had the bases loaded with one out. Jordan Pacheco hit a grounder to Ellis' left.

Beckett thought the ball might reach the outfield and allow two runs to score.

"That would have put us in a hole," Beckett said.

But Ellis reached the ball, turned and threw to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who was covering second base. Ramirez delivered the ball to Adrian Gonzalez at first to complete the double play and keep the game scoreless.

"Everybody would have been happy with just getting one" out, Beckett said.

Ellis downplayed his effort.

"I caught it in stride, so it was an easy play for me to turn around and throw to second base," he said.

Ellis has often made difficult plays look easy this year, his first of a two-year, $8.75-million deal with the Dodgers.

Beckett's admiration for Ellis dates to their days in the American League, when Beckett pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Ellis played for the Oakland Athletics.

"All he does is get the job every time," Beckett said. "That's kind of the way he's been his whole career."

The other Ellis

Matt Kemp isn't the only recently slumping Dodger to start hitting in recent days.

A.J. Ellis is too.

Ellis hit his first home run in more than a month Sunday. The two-run blast in the sixth inning was his 12th of the season.

A week earlier, Ellis ended a 0-for-30 skid. His batting average, which was as high as .283 as recently as Sept. 9, was down to .263 on Sept. 22.

But over his last six games, Ellis is nine for 23 (.391) with eight runs batted in.

Ellis has caught 129 games, fourth-most in the major leagues. That led to speculation on the part of Manager Don Mattingly that he might be exhausted.

Ellis, who is in his first full major league season, claimed his exhaustion was more mental than physical.

"I didn't know about the mental grind of the full season," he said. "I knew about the physical grind. I talked to [former Dodgers catchers] Brad Ausmus and Russell Martin what a full season feels like. But you don't really know until you experience the mental grind. That might have caught up with me."

Rockies add to thin bench

The Rockies had only one healthy position player on the bench Saturday. So for their series finale the next day, they called up a player from the minor leagues.

The player, 21-year-old Rafael Ortega, realized his major league dreams far earlier than he could have imagined. Ortega spent the season at Class-A Modesto, where he batted .283.

Ortega started in center field and batted second. He reached base four times on a two singles, a hit by pitch and a walk. After he got an infield hit in his first at-bat, he stole second base.

Tracy mum on Gagne

Rockies Manager Jim Tracy wouldn't say much about Eric Gagne's claim that 80% of his Dodgers teammates were using performance-enhancing drugs. Tracy managed the Dodgers from 2001-05, when Gagne was with the team.

"Those are questions better answered by someone else," Tracy said. "I say that because from my perspective, for me to comment on that, is pure speculation and I don't involve myself much in speculation."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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