Note: Ethier living well and thriving late in games

In a 4-2 win over the Rockies last night, Andre Ethier hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to win it for the Dodgers.

It was Ethier’s fourth walk-off hit of the season, and he now has the last three of the Dodgers nine walk-off hits this year. Dating back to the beginning of last year, Ethier has seven walk-off hits.

Ethier leads the Dodgers with 15 home runs – three of which came against Seattle last Friday – and 52 RBIs.

After the game, Ethier talked about his success in late-game situations.

“It’s just about having fun and enjoying the moment,” Ethier said. “In a situation like that, it’s just about emotion and excitement. You can see the energy going into the situation and one swing can end the game. I’ve just been trying to learn to balance that energy.”

It’s weird, but I was in the clubhouse before Monday’s game and it just seems like Ethier is oozing confidence right now. The way he carries himself, the way he interacts with teammates, reporters and club employees, he just looks like a player ready to take his game to another level.

Granted, his batting average and OBP are down from last year, but he’s well on his way to exceeding his career highs in home runs and RBIs. At this point he seems a lock to make the National League All-Star team.

Considering all the turmoil going on with Milton Bradley in Chicago, it’s pretty obvious now the Dodgers stole Ethier from Oakland for Bradley and Antonio Perez prior to the 2006 season. As I recall, Dodgers’ G.M. Ned Colletti was basically ordered to trade Bradley soon after taking over as G.M., but with all of Bradley’s baggage finding a trade partner was difficult. In fact, only one serious offer emerged – and that was Billy Beane offering Ethier, who was coming off a breakout season in Double-A after entering the season as the A’s 16th best prospect.

Colletti, pressed to make a deal, agreed. The rest is history.

It isn’t often another G.M. gets the best of Beane, but in this case Colletti was the clear-cut winner.

POSTGAME: DODGERS 4, ROCKIES 2

The Dodgers beat the Rockies 4-2 tonight at Dodger Stadium in a tight, well played 13 innings. For a full recap and boxscore click here

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

On and on they played, deep into the night, until finally, thankfully, Andre Ethier ended things with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to win it for the Dodgers.

Tip of the cap to the Dodgers’ bullpen, which delivered seven innings of shutout ball by seven different relievers. A special shout out to Jeff Weaver, who struck out the side in the top of the 10th after the Rockies put runners on third and first with none out.

Dodger starter Randy Wolf pitched decently, but he made a mistake pitch to Ryan Spilborghs in the fifth inning that Spilborghs smacked into the left field pavilion for a two-run home run.

The Dodgers answered right back in the bottom of the fifth, getting a two-run single from Wolf to tie the game.

ETC…ETC:

The Dodgers notched their ninth walk-off win and their 14th win in their final at bat.

Ethier now has four walk-off hits this year – including the last three – and has seven total since the start of the 2008 season. It was his second walk-off home run of the season.

Ethier leads the Dodgers with 15 home runs, 14 of which have come at Dodger Stadium He is tied with Albert Pujols for the Major League lead for the most home runs at home.

The Dodgers are 7-2 in extra inning games this year, including 6-1 at Dodger Stadium.

In an oddity, Juan Pierre got on base four times on three hits and a walk…and didn’t score a run. Pierre stole three bases in a game for the first time since the 2007 season.

The Dodgers have yet to lose three straight games this season.

The Dodgers bullpen has allowed only two runs in 23.1 innings in its last five games, an 0.77 ERA in that span.

GAME BALL:

Goes to Ethier and the Dodgers’ bullpen.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers send RHP Chad Billingsley (9-3, 3.10) to the mound against RHP Jason Marquis (9-5, 4.22) in Game 2 of the three-game series at 7:10 p.m.

Anticipation: Many thoughts on Manny

Manny Ramirez was a popular topic of discussion during Joe Torre’s pregame chat with reporters before Monday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

That’s understandable considering Manny’s return to the Dodgers is a mere four days away.

As much as the team would like to downplay his arrival, there is no getting around the fact the Dodgers are about to add one of the game’s top three right-handed bats.

And just in the nick of time.

The Dodgers limped into Monday’s game losing four of their last six games for the first time this season, and after dropping two straight series for the first time this season.

In fact, the recent play prompted Torre to talk to his players before Monday’s game about not falling into the trap of relaxing until Manny gets back.

Torre isn’t sure the Dodgers have throttled down a notch the last two series in anticipation of Manny, but just to be on the safe side he addressed it with the team.

“I don’t know, but I’ll certainly mention it (to the Dodgers) today.” Torre said. “With all the conversations about it…maybe. For me, I don’t think any of that would have anything to do with the pitching. Pitchers get their one opportunity every five or six days whether he’s here or not. They’re a different breed. So I don’t think so.”

Of more immediate concern is Manny’s physical status when he reports back Friday against San Diego. Bottom line, his first week or so back will be glorified spring training, only the games count and Manny will be getting in baseball shape on the fly.

“You can do all the stuff in the weight room you want to do but you still have to go out there and use muscles you’re not used to using,” Torre said.

That being said, there is no downside to adding Manny.

“Hopefully he can give us more consistent offense,” Torre said. “We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve won a lot of close games and we’ve made the most out of the runs we’ve scored, especially here at home. I think Manny’s presence in the lineup, besides the ability he brings; it’s sort of a security blanket. The difference as opposed to last year, when we sort of waited around for him to do something, is that this year we’re a more formidable group. But I think he still adds a little more credibility.”