Ethier, Dodgers Visit With Manny Then Hit Homers

Andre Ethier isn't worried where he'll be in the lineup when Manny Ramirez comes back from his suspension.

On a day that Ramirez showed up to talk to his teammates, Ethier homered his first two times up to continue his hot hitting and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 6-4 on Tuesday night.

The defending NL West champions are a major league-best 40-20 and have an 8.5 game lead over second-place San Francisco. They are 19-12 without their enigmatic left fielder in the lineup. Barring rainouts, Ramirez is eligible to be reinstated from his 50-game suspension on July 3 when the Dodgers are in San Diego.

"There's a lot of time until that happens, and right now we still have a lot of work to do without him in the lineup," Ethier said. "We'll address that when the time comes, I guess, but we're excited for him to get back. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Chad Billingsley (8-3) overcame a shaky start to tie Johan Santana, Jason Marquis and Matt Cain for the NL lead in wins. The right-hander threw 117 pitches over 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits just hours after Ramirez made a surprise visit to the clubhouse with 20 games left on his ban for violating Major League Baseball's substance abuse policy.

"It's always good to see the big boy," Orlando Hudson said. "If we can hold on, he'll be back soon. We're counting down the days until he gets back — and when he does, he'll go on a tear. That's how great he is."

Jonathan Broxton got his 14th save in 16 chances despite giving up an RBI single in the ninth to David Eckstein. It was the first run Broxton has allowed this season at Dodger Stadium in 18 2-3 innings covering 16 appearances at home.

Young (4-5) was charged with five runs and six hits over five innings in his third consecutive loss. The 6-foot-10 right-hander gave up four home runs for the second time in his six-year career.

The Dodgers, who came in with the fourth-fewest home runs in the NL, took a 4-3 lead when Matt Kemp led off the fifth with his seventh of the season.

Three batters later, Hudson drove a 3-2 pitch just over the fence in right-center for his fourth homer -- giving Los Angeles a 5-3 lead and ending a drought of 34 games since his last one on April 30 at Dodger Stadium against San Diego's Josh Geer. Even after he knew it was gone, Hudson continued sprinting around the bases.

Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a two-run single for the Padres in the first inning, but Ethier got one of the runs back in the bottom half when he homered just inside the right field pole.

Kemp tied it in the second with a two-out RBI single, and Ethier gave Los Angeles the lead in the third with his second two-out homer -- this one into the right field pavilion on a first-pitch fastball. Ethier is 12 for 29 lifetime against Young, and six of those hits have been home runs.
The multi-homer game was the sixth of Ethier's career and fourth this season. The Dodgers' right fielder has hit five of his 11 home runs in his last seven games, following a 24-game drought. He also homered twice in Saturday's 3-2 win over Philadelphia, hitting his second one in the 12th inning for his second walkoff hit in two nights.

"I feel better about the results," Ethier said. "There were just some minor things I had to work out, but I was still coming to the field confident and ready to go. Sometimes things don't happen the way you want them to, and those kind of stretches will come. But it's how you come out of it and make yourself better."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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