Manager Joe Torre said it had more to do with Juan Pierre's career success against Colorado left-handed starting pitcher Jeff Francis. Pierre is 13-for-27 (.481) lifetime against Francis, and Ethier is 4-for-17 (.236).
"I want to play [Pierre] here and there and then something jumps out and it helps you make up your mind," Torre said of the matchup decision to start Pierre in center field, moving Matt Kemp over to right field.
That wasn't Torre's only adjustment. Speaking of something that jumps out, James Loney is 1-for-16 against Francis, so he didn't start. Instead, Torre moved third baseman Casey Blake across the diamond to play first base, moved catcher Russell Martin to third base and started Danny Ardoin behind the plate.
Torre said he remains committed to left-handed pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney, despite his seasonlong slump. The popular Sweeney is batting .122 on the season and is 9-for-60 (.150) pinch-hitting with five RBIs.
Torre pointed out that Sweeney has improved since coming off the disabled list July 27 (3-for-10) after a hamstring injury that bothered him long before he was injured.
"You'd have to find somebody that's a better option and we don't have one," Torre said. "What he's done and his experience carries some weight. For a pinch-hitter, average isn't that important, although .120 is proof he hasn't gotten enough hits. Early on, he was terrible. But a lot of his average was when he was trying to play with the leg problem he had. He knows what to do up there. I still have faith in him to get big hits."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.