DeWitt's career-high five RBIs power LA
Second baseman hits first homer to back solid Monasterios
LOS ANGELES -- Before Monday's game, a 12-4 Dodgers win over the Cardinals that saw Blake DeWitt hit his first home run of the season, drive in a career-high five runs and make a diving catch, the second baseman still had no promises. There haven't been any all season long.
Two nights ago, manager Joe Torre turned around in his office after the game to find DeWitt standing there. Torre needed to speak to A.J. Ellis and pointed in his direction, but his locker is next to DeWitt's. So assistant clubhouse manager Alex Torres sent in DeWitt.
DeWitt, unlike most on the Dodgers, still has options. They can send him down and bring him up at will, something DeWitt went through plenty last season, and something that's in the back of his mind. At the start of the day Saturday, he had been in a 1-for-18 slump and was given a day off just a game before.
"I didn't know what it was for," DeWitt said. "I got in there and me and Joe both kind of looked at each other. I was thinking, 'What does he need?' And Joe's looking at me, like, 'What does he need?'"
"You can see maybe the radar might be up," Torre said.
Earlier in the season, Torre saw DeWitt worrying enough about his spot on the roster that he told the 24-year-old he wasn't going to be demoted as part of an immediate move the Dodgers had to make -- or as part of the next.
"We're trying to make light of it," Torre said. "I can't tell him it's never going to happen, because that's not honest. I'd like to relieve that pressure, but I can't do it."
On Monday, DeWitt had an RBI single in the fourth inning and a three-run home run off the screen of the right-field foul pole in the fifth, his first homer since Sept. 19, 2009, a span of 52 games. He has a four-game hit streak and two hits in each of the past three games.
Likely without coincidence, DeWitt had switched from his traditional toe-tap to a leg kick, a project that made him uncomfortable at the plate, and he had recently reverted back to his usual mechanics. Entering the weekend, DeWitt knew he was trying too hard.
"You know [the possibility of a demotion] is there, it's not something you should worry about," DeWitt said. "I just had to step back and relax and go out there have fun."
DeWitt added a leaping catch into right field to rob Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue in the ninth inning. At the plate half an inning earlier, he pushed right fielder Ryan Ludwick to the warning track with a bases-loaded fly that went for a sacrifice and his fifth RBI.
"The last three, four, five days he's been more comfortable with the bat," Torre said. "Tonight was a big night for him. I think confidence-wise with him he's probably as confident as he's been all year."
Carlos Monasterios threw a career-best six-plus innings and 86 pitches for his third win of the season and his second in four starts. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday both went hitless, and Monasterios is apparently fearless.
"Absolutely not," the rookie and Rule 5 Draft pick said when asked if he had any fear facing the three-time National League Most Valuable Player. "Why should I?"
Monasterios finished with three runs allowed on four hits, and made it through the first six innings with just two hits allowed. The blemishes, one in the second and one in the seventh, belonged to Ludwick, who hit a pair of solo homers. Monasterios also walked three and struck out none.
"He gave up the home runs to Ludwick, but he went through the rest of the middle of that lineup," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "He makes quality changeups at the right time. He's a lot like [John] Ely."
"He had such a big difference in speed between the fastball and the off-speed stuff that it was tough to lay back," said Cardinals center fielder Randy Winn, 2-for-3. "And when you thought he might throw something off-speed, he had enough on his fastball to sneak it by you."
The Dodgers jumped all over Blake Hawksworth, a reliever who was making his first big league start in a rotation that's been thinned by injuries. The Dodgers had 14 hits and scored the most runs they have since May 11, when they beat the D-backs, 13-3.
Rafael Furcal was 2-for-5 with two RBIs, and Matt Kemp was 2-for-4 to reach a four-game hit streak. Ronnie Belliard, filling in for the almost-ready third baseman Casey Blake, had two hits and so did Reed Johnson, who came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh.
A night after he gave the Dodgers a walk-off win, catcher A.J. Ellis even got down a successful suicide squeeze, just out of the reach of a diving Hawksworth in the fourth.
"It was a great night all around," DeWitt said. "We strung at-bats together up and down the lineup, put pressure on them and had great pitching."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.