video thumbnail

LAD@FLA: Ethier belts a go-ahead homer in the 10th

MIAMI -- Don Mattingly said Jonathan Broxton is still his closer, even though Vicente Padilla picked up his first save in 11 seasons Wednesday.

Andre Ethier, who extended his April-record hitting streak to 24 games with a fourth-inning single, homered leading off the 10th inning for a 5-4 win over the Marlins that helped the Dodgers avoid a series sweep.

The Dodgers battled back from a 4-0 deficit -- only the second time this season they won a game in which the opponent scored at least four runs, and the first time they won a game they trailed in the sixth inning.

Starter Chad Billingsley put Los Angeles in that four-run hole in the second inning, with Chris Coghlan doubling in three runs, but Billingsley then went the next 4 1/3 innings without allowing a hit or a run to keep the club in the game.

A beat-up Rod Barajas slugged his fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning to get the Dodgers back in the game. Then a beat-up Juan Uribe, who missed his fifth start with a strained thigh, delivered a seventh-inning RBI pinch-hit double to tie the game.

Then Ethier won it with his third home run off Brian Sanches, who had allowed only one other hit and no runs all season. Matt Guerrier -- who pitched into a ninth-inning mess with runners on second and third and one out, but struck out Scott Cousins and got John Buck on a grounder -- got the win.

Ethier got a hit on March 31, but his 24-game streak began on April 2. He went 0-for-4 on April 1 vs. the Giants.

But what about the closer?

"We get big hits all over the place and you're going to write about that?" Mattingly asked reporters.

Mattingly said, and Broxton confirmed, that the right-hander's elbow is still "barky," as Mattingly put it, from his blown save Monday night, and he was available Wednesday "in an emergency."

"We didn't want to use him if we didn't have to," said Mattingly. "Try to get the win and give him the extra day [Thursday is a day off]. He was for an emergency from the beginning of the game."

Broxton said his elbow had "a little soreness" during pregame warmups.

"It happens every year, and you pick days to do it; with an off-day tomorrow it helps out tremendously," he said. "It happened in the past, but it never really stands out. I wasn't 100 percent, and you don't want to go out there unless you're nearly 100 percent. You all didn't know about it, but they told me before the game they'd stay away unless it was an emergency situation."

Whether Tuesday's radio comments by general manager Ned Colletti, implying that other relievers could be used to close games, had anything to do with it is left to the imagination.

"Broxton is my closer, I told you that," Mattingly said again after the game. "I don't have to define closer. You know what a closer is."

Apparently, the words "closer by committee" didn't sit well with Mattingly when Colletti's comments about "three choices or so at the end of the game ... until Broxton can get his confidence back and get settled" were interpreted to mean that Mattingly might use Padilla, Hong-Chih Kuo -- when he is activated -- or others in the final inning.

"How many times have you seen a team say closer by committee, and it ends in a mess?" Mattingly asked. "It never seems that teams do that and not end in a mess."

So, call it what you like.

Padilla called it enjoyable.

"My dream was to be a closer, but they turned me into a starter and now I'm a closer again," he said after making only his third appearance since returning from February forearm surgery. "I had a little pressure the first pitch, but after I got the first guy out, I was really relieved."

Padilla retired the Marlins on three ground balls, Ivan De Jesus Jr. making a slick pick for the final out.

"It's a lot easier than going six or seven innings," Padilla said of closing. "If they give me the opportunity again, yes."

Will the Dodgers see more of Padilla in a closing situation?

"He's throwing strikes and he's getting stronger," said Mattingly. "He's throwing 93 [mph], but you'll see 95, 96 out of him. He's a valuable piece."

Barajas, who is hitting only .182, tied Matt Kemp for the club lead with his fifth home run.

"All or nothing," said Barajas, who is caked in ice after every game. "Typical catcher stuff. Lots of bumps and bruises. That's the way the position is. I expect that. For me, I feel fine. I wake up sore, but by the time it's time to play the game, I'm ready to go."

MLB.com Comments