Dodgers 5, Cubs 2

The closest anyone has come to Joe DiMaggio’s iconic 56-game

hitting streak since he eclipsed Wee Willie Keeler’s 45-gamer in

1941 was Pete Rose – who hit in 44 straight in 1978.

Andre Ethier is now halfway to Joltin’ Joe.

The Dodgers’ All-Star right fielder extended his hitting streak

to 28 games with an infield RBI single that capped a three-run

fifth inning, and Clayton Kershaw pitched seven strong innings in a

5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

”Only halfway? It’s nothing to get too caught up in or excited

about right now,” Ethier said with a grin. ”There’s still a long

way to go. I’m more happy about Kershaw getting back on track and

us bouncing back after two tough losses to San Diego.”

Ethier, who kept his streak alive with a grounder to deep

shortstop that Starlin Castro couldn’t make a play on, is three

games shy of the Dodgers franchise record that Willie Davis set in

1969.

”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 offensively,” Ethier said. ”I

mean, if the streak wasn’t going on, I’d be just as (upset) if I

got out no matter what the situation was.”

Ethier is batting .393 during his streak with three homers and

17 RBIs, a stretch in which the Dodgers have gone 13-15. Davis’

streak included all 28 games he played in August and his first

three games in September. He batted .435 during that stretch with

one homer and 23 RBIs, while the Dodgers went 13-18.

Kershaw (3-3) allowed two runs and eight hits, including Alfonso

Soriano’s major league-leading 11th homer leading off the seventh.

The 23-year-old left-hander struck out four and did not walk a

batter for the first time in seven starts this season.

”It was more of a testament to their aggressiveness,” Kershaw

said. ”I mean, it’s good not to walk anybody and make them beat

you, especially with a lead. Tonight was a battle. I didn’t really

have anything to put guys away with. It wasn’t great, but I got the

job done. And we got some runs early, which was nice.”

Vicente Padilla pitched a perfect eighth and Jonathan Broxton

did likewise in the ninth for his sixth save in seven attempts.

James Russell (1-4) gave up five runs and six hits over 4 2-3

innings in his fourth major league start, dropping the Cubs’ record

to 0-10 when their starters fail to reach the sixth. The

left-hander, inserted into the rotation because of an injury to No.

5 starter Andrew Cashner, is 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in that role.

One consolation for Russell: He got his first big league hit

with a single in the second inning.

”We’re pitching guys that are stretched out and are giving us

everything they’ve got,” manager Mike Quade said. ”I mean, I

didn’t look at Russell as a starter, but he’s starting for us and

he’s taken that role and done the best he can with it. He’s gotten

better, and I think his approach tonight was better. So we’ll see

what happens down the road, as far as Russell’s concerned. But at

this point, he’s done a nice job.”

The Cubs opened the scoring in the first against Kershaw with a

two-out RBI double by Geovany Soto after the team went 1 for 14

with runners in scoring position during Sunday’s 4-3 loss at

Arizona.

Until then, the Dodgers were the only team in the majors that

hadn’t allowed a first-inning run at home.

The Dodgers pulled ahead with two runs in the second. Matt Kemp

singled, stole second and came home when Juan Uribe got the green

light from rookie manager Don Mattingly on a 3-0 pitch and doubled

over the head of right fielder Reed Johnson. Rookie Ivan DeJesus

Jr., whose father played shortstop for the Cubs and Dodgers and is

now Chicago’s third base coach, drove in Uribe with a single inside

first base.

The Dodgers didn’t get another hit until the fifth, when Rod

Barajas led off with a double and rookie Jerry Sands hit a two-run

double. Ethier chased Russell with his RBI single.

NOTES: Sunday night’s spontaneous chants of ”U-S-A! U-S-A!” by

fans at the Mets-Phillies game after they got word of Osama bin

Laden’s death brought back poignant memories for Dodgers

broadcaster Rick Monday. He elicited a similar reaction from the

Dodger Stadium crowd in 1976, when it burst into a chorus of ”God

Bless America” right after he snatched a flag away from two

protesters who attempted to set fire to it in the outfield while he

was playing for the Cubs. ”I did not have the game on last night,

but I saw the replay of what the people did and I got chills

watching it – not as a flashback on what I did, but because of what

we’re doing right now as a country,” said Monday, who spent six

years in the Marine Corps reserves. ”On 9/11, we got really close.

And to see the reaction of what took place last night (everywhere

in the country), and then to see it carry over to today does not

surprise me at all. I’m glad we’re coming together as one again.”

… Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, who turns 34 on Tuesday, will be

pitching on his birthday for the first time in 14 big league

seasons when he opposes RHP Chad Billingsley. Dempster is 7-3 with

a 2.81 career ERA against the Dodgers in 23 appearances, including

13 starts.