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MIA@LAD: Ethier collects four hits and four RBIs

LOS ANGELES -- As rumors floated around Dodger Stadium Friday about the possible blockbuster deal involving Los Angeles and Boston, there was still a game to be played.

Putting any possible distractions behind them, the Dodgers hit three homers in the first three innings -- including a two-run shot by former Marlin Hanley Ramirez off former Dodger Nathan Eovaldi -- to outslug Miami, 11-4, for a win that featured a start by Chad Billingsley cut short.

Billingsley was taken out of the game in the fourth inning with a tender right elbow after being evaluated for a few minutes on the mound by head trainer Sue Falsone. Billingsley, who made a short trip to the disabled list with right elbow inflammation in July, had gone 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA since being activated.

An MRI exam on the elbow showed inflammation, and neither Billingsley nor manager Don Mattingly knew if a missed start or DL stint would be necessary.

"For him to come out of the game, it was tender," said Mattingly, who added the concern about the DL is not yet huge. "The way Chad has been pitching, this time of year, we're not going to take a chance."

The righty allowed three runs before exiting, but the bullpen filled in to finish off the Marlins as the Dodgers regrouped after being swept at home by the Giants.

With the possibility of adding Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto becoming more and more likely with each passing hour on Friday, Mattingly said his team needed to focus on the basics with a game in the middle of a division race still to be played.

The trade would bring more than $250 million in salary to Los Angeles, showing the financial flexibility of the new ownership group.

The trade would also bring a significant upgrade at first base in Gonzalez, as well as a World Series tested starting pitcher in Beckett. Three of the four players who would be coming to the Dodgers are former All-Stars whose numbers have declined this season.

First baseman James Loney, who is part of the deal, was originally in the lineup before being scratched. He spent the game in the dugout wearing the only uniform he has known since being drafted in the first round in 2002, and said he didn't know any more news following the game.

Mattingly didn't have much to say about what was going on off the field, and said he didn't need to say much to Loney.

"Guys aren't dumb," the manager said. "I took him out of the lineup. He was in the lineup. I'll leave it at that."

Despite all the excitement, the team buckled down on the field and overcame a first-inning homer by Jose Reyes, the first of five total in the game.

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the first with two men on, Andre Ethier started things off for the Dodgers when he drilled a ball into the right-center-field stands to give L.A. the lead. Ethier, who is dealing with a painful, nickel-sized blister on his right palm, had hit only three home runs since May 21 before the first-inning blast.

By the end of the game, Ethier collected four hits in as many at-bats, and he is now 6-for-8 in his last two games after going 1-for-22 in his previous six.

"I told him I would cut a hole in his hand the next time he starts struggling again," Mattingly said. "Dre has been a little shorter. The thing with his hands shortened him up where he doesn't want to be way out there, and it's helping him."

Ethier said the blister isn't as bad as he expected it to be, and he was more concerned about the victory than his own personal game.

"The key is getting back in the win column," Ethier said. "It was a tough series after that long stretch of games. We just needed to come back and get back on our thing, and we did tonight."

The Marlins tied it up in the second, but Juan Rivera hit a solo shot to give the Dodgers back the lead.

Ramirez added to the advantage with a two-run shot in the third. After a tumultuous couple of years with the Marlins, he has now gone 7-for-17 with a homer and seven RBIs against his former team since joining the Dodgers.

On whether there was any added emotion or adrenaline facing the Marlins, Ramirez deflected questions as he has done often since the trade.

"Not at all," he said. "We just try to win as many games as we can right now and try to make it to the playoffs."

L.A. tacked on five more in the seventh for good measure, helped by a pair of Miami errors.

Eovaldi, who was traded to the Marlins in the Ramirez deal in July, was roughed up in his return to Dodger Stadium. He gave up six runs on seven hits in only three innings.

"Maybe I was a little amped up," Eovaldi said. "But it comes down to being able to execute all your pitches and attack the strike zone."

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