Mark Ellis had two home runs in the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the New… (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty…)
NEW YORK — Mark Ellis isn't flashy. While his ability to make difficult defensive plays appear routine has earned him the reputation as a ballplayers' ballplayer, it's often made him an afterthought in the minds of fans.
But Ellis forced his way onto center stage Tuesday, blasting two home runs in the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field.
The first of Ellis' home runs was the 100th in a career spanning 11 seasons.
"Fortunately, a fan threw it back on the field," Ellis said of the ball. "That's what's nice about doing it on the road."
The Dodgers have scored 14 runs in their last two games, both wins. During the previous six games, all losses, the Dodgers scored a total of 13 runs.
Timely hitting was the difference. Manager Don Mattingly recalled games in which the Dodgers collected as many hits as they did Tuesday night, 12, but had only a fraction of the runs to show for it.
"We talked about it," Mattingly said. "If we could continue to get traffic on the bases, we were going to get our share. The game tells you, you keep getting 13 hits and a few walks, you're going to score more than two runs."
The big hits came from some unexpected sources, starting with Ellis, who was four for five and drove in four runs. He raised his batting average to .348, second-highest among Dodgers regulars.
"I feel great," Ellis said. "I feel good physically. I feel good at the plate. I'm not trying to do too much. I'm just trying to get on base for the guys in the middle of the lineup."
Catcher A.J. Ellis doubled in two runs. The first run of the game was driven in by shortstop Justin Sellers, who entered the game with a .174 average but was three for four.
With starter Jonathon Niese injured when a comebacker by Mark Ellis struck him in the leg and forced him out of the game after only 21/3 innings, the Mets had to deploy five relievers.
The offensive production allowed the Dodgers to overcome an uncharacteristically shaky start by ace Clayton Kershaw, who lasted only five innings because he ran his pitch count up to 111.
The two runs charged to Kershaw came in the third inning. With two outs, he walked reliever Robert Carson, who was making his first career plate appearance. He also walked the next batter, Ruben Tejada, then served up run-scoring singles to Daniel Murphy and David Wright.
"I was pretty terrible tonight," said Kershaw, who walked four and got no decision. "Two-out walk to the friggin' pitcher. I was just awful. The team won in spite of me, not because of me."
Greinke resumes throwing
Zack Greinke is a little more than a week removed from an operation on his non-throwing shoulder, but has already resumed playing catch. By maintaining arm strength as he recovers from surgery, he might be able to expedite his return.
The Dodgers initially estimated that Greinke would be sidelined for eight weeks.
Cruz sits again
Luis Cruz, who is batting .087, was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day. Jerry Hairston Jr. started at third base. When Hairston was removed as part of a sixth-inning double switch, Mattingly called on Juan Uribe instead of Cruz.
"I think he's just lost confidence," Mattingly said of Cruz.
Mattingly added that he's noticed some mechanical problems in Cruz's swing, particularly with the lower half of his body.
Cruz is out of options, meaning he can't be sent to the minor leagues without clearing waivers.
Sandy Koufax visited the Dodgers clubhouse before the game and spoke with Kershaw and Matt Kemp, among others. . . . Double-A outfielder Joc Pederson was named Southern League player of the week. . . . Mattingly spent his day off Monday visiting Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.