Ethier's slam helps Dodgers take Seattle series
SEATTLE (AP) -- When manager Don Mattingly looked at what awaited on a 10-game road trip that spanned three time zones with his Los Angeles Dodgers coming off four straight losses at home, he had legitimate concerns about whether it was just a blip or the start of a downward turn.
After an impressive 7-3 trip, the Dodgers head home for their Freeway Series against the rival Angels with the best record in baseball.
"This was a good trip for us. It could have been dangerous," Mattingly said.
Andre Ethier awakened from a recent slump with his fourth career grand slam to cap a six-run second inning and Chad Billingsley pitched the Dodgers past the Seattle Mariners 8-2 on Sunday.
Los Angeles opened its trip by winning one of three games in Colorado, but swept a four-game series in Philadelphia and then rebounded from being shut down by six pitchers in Seattle's third no-hitter Friday night to win the final two games of the interleague series.
"If before it started we looked ahead, it would have looked like an uphill battle. But it was one where we went and divided the series and had fun playing," Ethier said.
Billingsley (4-4) won his second straight decision, giving up two hits and a solo homer to Kyle Seager in seven strong innings. The right-hander struck out eight and walked three, the third time in four starts that he has struck out eight.
He got all the offense he needed on one swing from Ethier, who had just one hit in his previous 27 at-bats before smacking a 3-2 fastball from starter Blake Beavan (3-6) into the right-field seats with two outs in the second.
Ethier's first grand slam since Aug. 11, 2011, against Colorado increased his National League-leading RBI total to 52.
"It's a nice way to top it off. Their plan backfired on them the whole series," Ethier said. "They didn't want to be aggressive to me and go be aggressive to other guys and that's why it's great to have teammates pick you up and do their job."
After the Mariners threw the 10th combined no-hitter in major league history Friday night, the Dodgers didn't stop hitting during the final two days of their first visit to the Pacific Northwest in a dozen years. Los Angeles racked up 14 hits in Saturday's 8-3 victory and added another 11 on Sunday.
The Dodgers' big inning began with Bobby Abreu's leadoff double, but Beavan retired James Loney on a flyout and A.J. Ellis on a popout. Beavan's problems started when he issued a walk to Adam Kennedy on a 3-2 pitch, then left a two-strike pitch over the middle of the plate to Tony Gwynn Jr., who lined an RBI single into center.
Dee Gordon followed with a single to score Kennedy and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Elian Herrera walked on a 3-1 pitch before Ethier's grand slam.
"If I don't walk two guys there or make a pitch and get a call it saves four runs right there," Beavan said. "I've got to do a better job of getting ahead of guys and putting them away."
The six-run inning matched the Dodgers' largest this season. They also scored six times in one inning against Colorado on May 13.
Loney and Kennedy each added an RBI single in the eighth off reliever Brandon League, who gave up four straight hits and struggled after getting two key outs during Friday's no-hitter.
Abreu doubled twice, raising his batting average to .326 in 32 games with the Dodgers.
Seager's homer in the first was his eighth of the season and his 24th two-out RBI -- he leads the American League in that category. Justin Smoak led off the second with a soft single, but Billingsley retired 18 of the next 21 batters, issuing only a trio of walks.
"I could just go out there and think quick outs and get the team back in there and just continue to throw strikes," Billingsley said.
The Dodgers now head home for three games against the Angels, who have won nine straight on the road and moved within three games of first-place Texas in the AL West.
"It's good for L.A. baseball. You get two teams that are playing good," Mattingly said. "It's a fun series for the fans and it's games we've got to win."
NOTES: Seattle is still not sure if RHP Kevin Millwood will be able to make his next start. Millwood left Friday night's combined no-hitter before the start of the seventh inning with a mild groin strain. Manager Eric Wedge said it doesn't appear serious, but the Mariners will make a more firm decision on Tuesday. ... Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe is expected to rejoin the team Monday, but the club is not sure when he'll be activated from the disabled list. Uribe has been out since May 13 with a sore left wrist. He's been on a rehab assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.