Ethier shakes slump from tough trip
Dodgers slugger picks up two hits after 1-for-29 slide
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' late collapse hasn't all been about Manny Ramirez.
Andre Ethier went 1-for-29 on the disastrous trip just completed and he was determined to make things right over the final weekend as a tuneup for the postseason.
In Friday night's series opener against the Rockies, Ethier went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a hard-fought walk.
"I felt good tonight," Ethier said. "I told Donnie [hitting coach Don Mattingly] after the second at-bat Wednesday night in San Diego that I felt I was back where I was before all of this. I had a different placement of my hands, moving them up a little and I felt those last at-bats in San Diego felt a lot better."
Ethier carried that over to Friday night. Facing Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez, Ethier doubled down the left-field line with one out in the first inning, but Ramirez was caught looking and Matt Kemp grounded out.
In the third inning with runners on first and second, Ethier worked a nine-pitch walk to load the bases. The first Dodgers run scored on a wild pitch, but Jimenez struck out Ramirez and Kemp.
In the fifth inning with one out and Rafael Furcal on first base, Ethier just missed squaring a pitch and flied out to deep left field.
In the seventh inning, which Russell Martin led off with a home run, Ethier came up with one out and runners on the corners. As the Rockies made a pitching change to former Dodgers left-hander Joe Beimel, Mattingly called Ethier from the on-deck circle to the dugout for some last-minute instructions.
"He just told me to stay up the middle, don't try to do too much, don't try too hard to go the other way, don't try to pull," Ethier said. "Those are the kinds of adjustments you have to make as the season is going on."
Ethier dropped a flare single into left field to bring home pinch-runner Chin-lung Hu, but the rally fizzled when Ramirez struck out for the fourth time and Kemp flied to right.
Delivering off a left-hander is key to Ethier, who is hitting only .189 against lefties compared to .302 against lefties this year. And it will be very important in the postseason, especially if the Dodgers play the Phillies, who will start lefties Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and possibly J.A. Happ.
But Dodgers manager Joe Torre gave Ethier a vote of confidence before Friday night's game when asked if he would consider sitting Ethier against a tough lefty in the playoffs.
"No. He's a player," said Torre, who often raves about Ethier's talent.
"You can't make yourself what he was blessed with -- that swing. He has the ability to let the ball get deeper and still drive it. You wish you could bottle it. He has to work at it, but there is a gift. The timing, the strength, the quickness and putting it all together. Andre is blessed with the ability to hit. It's not how high you go, it's how often you do it. That's what I look for. It's about doing it over and over, about repeating it and being that guy you can count on."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.