LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier and Chad Billingsley know a little bit about being overshadowed by their own teammates. In Billingsley's last start on Monday he struck out 11 batters and Ethier connected for two home runs, but the duo was outdone by Orlando Hudson, who became the first Dodgers player in team history to hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium. And on Saturday, the two were overshadowed yet again as Billingsley pitched six solid innings and Ethier hit two more home runs, but this time Manny Ramirez stole the spotlight.
It was simply yet another case of "Manny being Manny" as Ramirez was back to his usual self at the plate and in the field, bashing two home runs and making two defensive miscues in the Dodgers' 9-5 win over the Rockies to extend their winning streak to a Major League-high seven games. "The best news for us is that we've gotten through this thing and we've been winning," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "We rely on him so much and to have him break out like this is big for everybody." Ramirez's effect on the lineup also showed with Ethier at the plate with two runners on in the fourth inning. Ethier had a 3-1 count and knew that Rockies starter Aaron Cook had to throw a strike because Ramirez was on deck and already had two homers. Ethier decided to swing at anything close and Cook left a sinker up. Ethier deposited it over the right-field fence. "Manny had two home runs off him and I got in a 3-1 count and figured he wanted to keep it in the zone," Ethier said. "So I took a shot there at 3-1." The shot paid off as the home run gave the Dodgers a 5-0 lead with Billingsley pitching out of jams the first five innings by allowing just two hits during that span. Billingsley was most impressive in the second inning when Ramirez dropped a fly ball, putting runners at first and second with just one out. But Billingsley got Ian Stewart to ground out and then struck out Troy Tulowitzki to end the inning. Ramirez's misplay wasn't his only one as his second led to three runs, as Brad Hawpe hit a two-run triple when Ramirez dived for a line drive and missed in the left-field corner. Hawpe then scored on a sacrifice fly against Billingsley, who had to exit after the sixth because he had thrown 111 pitches. In all, he allowed three runs on just four hits while striking out six. "I didn't have my great stuff today," Billingsley said. "They were working me hard and getting me into deep counts and so I had to concentrate on making good pitches." Billingsley still picked up this third win of the season as the Dodgers were powered offensively by Ramirez and Ethier. Ethier's three-run shot in the fourth effectively chased Colorado starter Aaron Cook from the game and he added a solo home run in the seventh off left-hander Alan Embree. Ramirez homered in the first inning to end his drought of 36 at-bats without a home run this season and then quickly hit his second in the third inning. "I'm glad to get it out of the way," Ramirez said. "I didn't think about it because I knew it was a long season. I knew I'd come around so I was just being patient." It marked the first time that two Dodgers teammates had multihomer games since Aug. 19, 2004, when Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green did it against Atlanta. The Dodgers added three more insurance runs in the seventh on an RBI single by Matt Kemp, a sacrifice fly by Juan Castro and a rare RBI single by reliever Will Ohman. Kemp's single extended his hitting streak to 12 games. The extra runs proved important as the Rockies tacked on runs in the eighth and ninth inning and had two runners on base with Garrett Atkins at the plate. But Ronald Belisario struck out Atkins on a 3-2 fastball to end the game. With the win, the Dodgers continued their hot start even though they rested regulars Russell Martin, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake. "Games in April are as important as they are at the end of the season," Ethier said. "That's what Joe's been preaching. If you play well now, you don't have to play catch up. We have a lot of confidence in our lineup and what we're doing."
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.