"I think he overcame a big plateau and a big hurdle in the fact that he went through that three-game, or so, little dry spell," Torre said. "He was able to rebound very well from that."
On Monday night, there was a relapse for Ely and a chink in the newly minted rotation's armor. Ely couldn't make it out of the third inning at Dodger Stadium, and the Dodgers couldn't quite make up the difference in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins, despite a stellar bailout effort from Jeff Weaver and Ronald Belisario.
"I thought we were going to win this game, but baseball is like that," said Rafael Furcal, who extended his season-high hitting streak to nine and had a busy day in the field. "When you think you have a chance, you lose."
Furcal's lone hit in five at-bats was a two-run homer in the fourth inning that cut the Marlins' lead to 6-4 and brought the Dodgers fully back into a game that almost slipped away before it was one-third over. James Loney's two-out, opposite-field double in the eighth brought the Dodgers within one, but the rally went no further.
And there would have been no rally to be had if it weren't for Weaver and Belisario's combined 6 1/3 innings shutout innings. Weaver allowed no hits and one walk, and Belisario vice versa.
Ely was off from the start. Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez started the game with singles, and a sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez brought home the first run. A wild pitch set up a second run, which crossed the plate on a groundout.
"He just didn't locate," Torre said. "His curveball, he was throwing it about 55 feet. That's a big pitch for him. He got behind a lot of counts and didn't leave much guesswork to the hitter."
A double by Mike Stanton and a throwing error by catcher Russell Martin led to another Marlins run in the second. Martin, who is fond of snap throws behind runners, caught Stanton far off the bag at third, but he double-clutched and threw wide left of the bag, letting Stanton score. Martin made up for it with an RBI single in the bottom of the second that made it 3-1.
Ely fared the worst in the third, letting up four consecutive hits to start the inning. On Ely's final pitch, the opposing pitcher, Nate Robertson, hit an RBI single. Ely allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits and one walk during 2 2/3 innings. He threw 63 pitches, 37 for strikes, but allowed only one extra-base hit.
"I made a lot of good pitches today," Ely said. "Obviously, it was a little bit bizarre, some of the things that ended up happening. In the end, it's a loss, and the guys tried to battle back and play the game behind me. That one's squarely on me, I have to take the blame for that one."
With the Dodgers down, 6-1, Weaver came on and threw a season-long 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief, striking out two and walking one. That steadiness gave the Dodgers a window.
"We were pecking away and coming back. It looked good for us. I thought we were going to come back and win this one," Weaver said. "We came up a little short. I threw a bunch of sliders, located my sinker down when I needed to. It's a lot of right-handed hitters, so I felt pretty confident against them."
Los Angeles chipped away, scoring one run in the bottom of the third on catcher Ronny Paulino's errant throw to second as Matt Kemp stole second base. That allowed Ronnie Belliard to score from third base as shortstop Ramirez hunted for the ball, which had rolled under Kemp, who was on one knee after his slide.
Two more runs came around on Furcal's homer off Robertson in the fourth, hit to left field with two outs and a full count. It was Furcal's fifth of the season. On top of his hitting streak, Furcal has scored a run in 11 consecutive games, the longest streak for a Dodgers player since Shawn Green did the same in September 2002.
"Furcal, you tip your cap on that homer," said Robertson, who went six innings and let up four runs, three earned, on seven hits. "It was a two-seamer down, and he went down and golfed it out of the park. He's swinging a hot bat, as well. You've got to change speeds and use your defense."
The Dodgers went in order in the sixth and seventh. But Belisario's three innings kept the Marlins' bats in check after Weaver was finished, and Loney's opposite-field double scored Andre Ethier from second with two outs in the eighth off reliever Clay Hensley. Ethier drew a leadoff walk and took second on a Casey Blake groundout.
"Weaver and Belisario were spotless," Torre said. "It gave us a chance to catch up and put us in a position to tie, maybe win the game. We weren't able to do it."
Martin grounded back to the mound to end the eighth, and Marlins closer Leo Nunez put the Dodgers down in order in the ninth, striking out Furcal swinging with a 93-mph, full-count fastball to end the game.
"We played great as a team," Ely said. "Other than the first three innings."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.