Catcher Ellis surging as season winds down

Catcher Ellis surging as season winds down

LOS ANGELES -- Until recently, September had been a nightmare for most of the Dodgers' hitters, maybe none more so than for A.J. Ellis.

The catcher was batting just 7-for-51 (.137) with only one RBI in 18 games to start the month. But like many of his teammates, things have picked up considerably for Ellis.

With the calendar flipping over to October, he is batting 9-for-23 (.391) in his last six games and he has an RBI in each of them and eight total. The RBI streak is a Dodgers season-long streak and, in typical fashion, the modest Ellis praised his teammates for his recent success.

"RBIs are a product of guys on base in front of me," he said. "There's been a lot of traffic out there."

But that hasn't been the case completely. Ellis hit a two-run homer in the sixth Sunday and he now has four extra-base hits during this current run.

It was his 12th homer of the season, and the power total from the catcher position has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers.

"Funny what happens when you don't try to," Ellis said.

As for the recent turnaround, manager Don Mattingly pointed to a ninth-inning double by Ellis on Sept. 23 against the Reds that snapped an 0-for-30 slump.

"He's driven some balls into the gap and gotten some hits," Mattingly said. "He seems better at the plate. We're not quite sure why he hit that little spell. He had another one a little earlier in the year."

Mattingly said he wasn't sure whether the funk was because Ellis was tired from catching his first full Major League season or if it was just a routine cold streak.

However, he did say fatigue -- mental more than physical -- does play a part, with Ellis needing to study all the time and that wearing down a catcher.

"It's not like he's hitting and going into the outfield," said Mattingly. "He's got to call every pitch, and the games we have been in are like you can't give up a run or anything."