video thumbnail

SD@LAD: Ethier unloads on a grand slam to right

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier had waited long enough.

Sure, the six walks Padres starter Tim Stauffer allowed in the second inning gave the Dodgers an early four-run lead and loaded the bases for their All-Star right fielder. But as the lengthy inning dragged on and ball after ball forced Stauffer from the game, there wasn't much action for the Dodger Stadium crowd to cheer about -- until Padres reliever Anthony Bass took the mound.

That's when Ethier jumped on the first pitch he threw, drilling a grand slam over the scoreboard in right field to double the lead with one swing. By the second inning, the Dodgers had already thrown up an eight-spot, and they made it stand up for an 8-5 win.

"I just saw it and hit it," Ethier said. "It was a good pitch to hit. Guys had good at-bats before me; we put a good game together as a team. It was a good game. We had fun."

Ethier has been the subject of some controversy recently, following a newspaper article that hinted the club had been forcing him to play on a bum right knee. But since the story saw print, he hasn't shown any ill effects from the injury, which will require offseason surgery.

Ethier was in a playful mood after the game, as he spoke to the media for the first time since he responded to the story on Sunday morning. He ended nearly every answer he offered with, "It was a good game; we had fun." He refused to talk about how his knee felt.

Suddenly red-hot after a mostly disappointing August, Ethier went 3-for-4 on Tuesday, hitting two singles to go along with the third grand slam of his career. It was his second consecutive three-hit game.

Manager Don Mattingly said it's hard to predict when a hot streak is coming on. He's heard theories that sometimes a bit of controversy can make a player feel more comfortable on the field than anywhere else, but he doesn't necessarily buy those.

"I've heard all kinds of different things about all that," Mattingly said. "Whatever it is, it's working."

In total, the Dodgers sent 13 batters to the plate in the second inning, their first eight-run frame since May 25, 2009, against Colorado. Seven of them walked, and three of those walks drove in runs. The seven walks in an inning were the most for the Dodgers since divisional play began in 1969. They walked a total of 12 times, the most since April 21, 1999, when Braves pitchers walked 14 Dodgers batters.

Stauffer, who had issued just six free passes in his six previous starts, managed just 25 strikes among his 61 pitches.

"I just think he had a rough game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's been one of the best pitchers in the National League, sort of flown under the radar. Tonight was extremely uncharacteristic."

Not to be lost in Stauffer's struggles was the patience of the Dodgers hitters, who laid off several pitches that were barely off the corners. One of those bases-loaded walks went to Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who was given something he didn't get much of in the season's first three months, but has grown accustomed to in his past four starts: a lead.

Kuroda has received 32 runs of support in those four recent outings. He hadn't totaled that much in his previous 15.

"I should have pitched a lot better than I did today with the run support I had," said Kuroda, who had a shutout through five, but allowed four runs and two homers in the sixth. "I think I was being too cautious. I didn't want runners on base, and I was trying to hit the corners. I thew a couple pitches right in the middle."

Nonetheless, Kuroda earned his fourth win in a row, despite feeling under the weather with a cold before the game. Kuroda didn't use that as an excuse for his shakiness, though.

"As the season goes deeper, no starting pitcher is 100 percent," Kuroda said. "Having said that, you have to pitch with what you have, and I have to do my best."

The Padres fought back against Kuroda, but ultimately Tuesday's game -- the Dodgers' seventh win in their past eight games -- was defined by the quirky, drawn-out second inning.

The first four runs came slowly, with three scoring on bases-loaded walks. The next four came in the time it took Ethier's bullet line drive to clear the right-field wall.

"I look up, and it's eight runs on two hits," Mattingly said. "That's a little different. You don't see that too often." Comments