Andre Ethier, owner of the longest active hitting streak in the
majors, is halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game streak from 1941.
Given the way Chicago Cubs starter Ryan Dempster pitched all
April, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ All-Star right fielder seems to
have a good chance to extend his run.
Ethier and the Dodgers take their hacks at Dempster, who will
take the mound Tuesday on his 34th birthday trying to bounce back
from an ugly opening month.
Ethier had an RBI infield single during a three-run fifth inning
Monday, extending his streak to 28 games and helping the Dodgers
(15-15) beat the Cubs (12-16) 5-2 in the series opener.
“Only halfway? It’s nothing to get too caught up in or excited
about right now,” said Ethier, who is 7 for 19 with a homer and
four doubles off Dempster. “…It’s neat to be a part of this and
keep it going, but I’m not going up there every at-bat just to
extend the streak. I want to get my knocks and do my damage
Los Angeles is averaging just 3.1 runs at home – among the worst
in NL – but could break out against the struggling Dempster (1-3,
9.58 ERA), whose ERA last month was a career-worst for April.
The right-hander has surrendered at least four runs in all six
of his starts, giving up seven in each of his last two outings –
including a 10-8 victory over the Dodgers on April 23.
Dempster, who didn’t receive a decision in that game, was even
worse in his most recent appearance, lasting a career-low one-third
of an inning Thursday in an 11-2 defeat at Arizona.
“This was a really bad outing,” Dempster told the Cubs’ official
website. “The game really didn’t start out like I dreamt it up.
I’ve been there before. I hope to not be there again. You’ve got to
learn from it and you need to go out there and put your work in the
next four days and give yourself a chance to win a ballgame.”
Dodgers first baseman James Loney, batting .202 on the season,
is 1 for 13 lifetime against Dempster, who is 6-0 with a 2.73 ERA
in his last nine starts against Los Angeles.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (2-1, 4.46) has also
experienced success in this series, posting a 3.38 ERA while
winning his last three straight starts against the Cubs – including
a 12-2 victory at Wrigley Field on April 22.
“The guy knows how to pitch for sure and, like most veteran
guys, knows how to pitch with a lead,” Cubs manager Mike Quade told
Billingsley had a rocky outing at Florida on Wednesday, giving
up four runs in six innings but not getting saddled with a
decision. The Dodgers won 5-4 on Ethier’s 10th-inning solo
Billingsley, who is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two home starts this
season, is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA in three career starts against the
Cubs at Chavez Ravine.
While he has held Alfonso Soriano to three hits in 18 at-bats
with eight strikeouts, Billingsley could have trouble slowing down
baseball’s current home run leader. Soriano went deep for the 11th
time Monday, matching the combined total for the rest of Chicago’s
Soriano is batting .400 with five homers in his last five