LOS ANGELES (AP) — The air in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ clubhouse was somewhat heavier than usual from the time the players reported to the ballpark to the time they left. The anticipation of seeing a longtime teammate get traded at any moment will do that.
Still, Andre Ethier had one of his best games of the season, going 4 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Rivera also went deep against Nathan Eovaldi in his return to Dodger Stadium, and Los Angeles went on to beat the Miami Marlins on 11-4 on Friday night.
Veteran first baseman James Loney was pulled from manager Don Mattingly’s original lineup before the game after word spread of a proposed blockbuster eight-player deal that would send him to Boston and bring first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and left fielder Carl Crawford to Chavez Ravine.
“Everyone knows what was in the works, but we still have to see if it all comes to light. And if tomorrow’s the day it happens — or doesn’t happen — then we’ll address it then,” Ethier said. “It’s tough to lose a guy like James. I’ve known him for eight years now, and we’ve cut our teeth and became major leaguers together. So we’ve been close for a long time, like a lot of guys in here.”
Chad Billingsley, trying to win his seventh straight start, departed in the fourth with a 6-3 lead because of tenderness in his elbow. The right-hander was charged with three runs, five hits and three walks over 3 1-3 innings in his shortest outing this season after giving up a two-run homer in the first to Jose Reyes.
“I threw a cutter inside to (Rob) Brantley that didn’t feel real good, then I threw a couple more pitches and felt uncomfortable,” Billingsley said. “I decided I didn’t want to hurt it any worse, so I tried to be smart about it and called (pitching coach Rick Honeycutt) out and told him I’m not feeling too good. They told me to just let it rest and go from there.”
Billingsley is 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts since coming off the DL on July 23. As a result of the All-Star break, he missed only one start because of inflammation in his elbow. An MRI taken Friday revealed the same problem.
“It seems to be the same thing it was before,” he said. “When I wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll see how it is, get some treatment on it and get ready for the next time I’m out there.”
Brantley lined a double off the bullpen gate in right field on Billingsley’s 58th and final pitch, giving the Marlins two men in scoring position with one out. Jamey Wright (5-3) inherited a 2-0 count on pinch-hitter Gorkys Hernandez, who ended up with a walk that was charged to Billingsley. But Bryan Petersen struck out and Justin Ruggiano looked at a called third strike.
Eovaldi (4-9) gave up six runs and seven hits over three innings in his sixth start for the Marlins, who acquired him on July 24 in the trade that sent Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate to Los Angeles. The 22-year-old right-hander, who gave up only five home runs in 80 1-3 innings for the Dodgers this season, hadn’t allowed one in his first 24 innings with Miami entering Friday.
“He wasn’t throwing strikes. And when you’re not hitting your spots you want to hit, you’re not going to get good results,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Location is more important than anything else. His location was up, and it was up against the wrong team. They came out and swung the bats good.”
The Dodgers, coming off a three-game sweep by San Francisco that turned a half-game lead in the NL West into a 2 1/2 game deficit, entered this series three games off the pace. And for the fourth straight game, they fell behind in the first inning.
Pedersen led off with a single and the switch-hitting Reyes hit his 10th home run into the lower seats in the right field corner — two pitches after Matt Kemp caught Ruggiano’s drive while banging into the center-field fence. It was only the second homer against Billingsley in his last 10 starts.
Ethier, who was 3 for 26 with two RBIs in his previous seven games, put Los Angeles ahead 3-2 in the bottom half with his 13th homer after a walk to Mark Ellis and a single by Kemp. The Marlins tied it in the second on groundout by Petersen that scored Donovan Solano, but Rivera regained the lead for the Dodgers in the bottom half with an opposite-field leadoff homer.
Ramirez increased the margin to 6-3 in the third with his 20th homer and sixth with Los Angeles. Kemp and Ethier added RBI singles against Carlos Zambrano during a five-run seventh that made it 11-4. The other three runs that inning came when Luis Cruz reached on an infield hit and circled the bases behind Kemp and Ethier on throwing errors by third baseman Greg Dobbs and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
NOTES: Wright was given as much time as he needed to warm up because of Billingsley’s injury, so organist Nancy Bea Hefley played a few choruses of “If it Takes Forever I Will Wait For You.” … Lee played his first game at Dodger Stadium since turning down a trade to them in early July while he was still with the Astros. The Marlins acquired him just days later. … Ethier’s homer was his first at Dodger Stadium since July 14 against San Diego, and just his second at Chavez Ravine since May 14 against Arizona. … Stanton had one hit in his previous 20 at-bats against the Dodgers before his two-run homer in the fifth against Wright. He has hit 14 of his 27 homers against NL West teams, more than any other player.