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Ethier's homer lifts Dodgers in 13th inning

Ethier homer lifts Dodgers in 13th

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier simply relishes the big stage, especially late in the game.

It sure shows as Ethier hit his Major League-leading seventh walk-off hit over the past two seasons with a two-run home run in the 13th inning to give the Dodgers a 4-2 win to cool off the red-hot Rockies on Monday.

Ethier tried his best to explain why he's been so clutch in late-game situations after the thrilling marathon win in front of 41,288 at Dodger Stadium.

"It's just about having fun and enjoying the moment," Ethier said. "In a situation like that, it's just about emotion and excitement. You can see the energy going into the situation and one swing can end the game. I've just been trying to learn to balance that energy."

The home run was Ethier's fourth walk-off hit this season and the Dodgers' ninth walk-off win this year. The club's 14th win in its last at-bat also prevented the Dodgers from losing three games in a row for the first time this year.

"We're relentless," catcher Russell Martin said. "I think it just says we're a consistent team and that we come to play every night. We're not gonna win every game but we're gonna put ourselves in position to have opportunities to win."

Ethier's 15th home run of the season came on a 1-2 changeup from reliever Joel Peralta and scored Casey Blake, who led off the inning with a single.

It was an especially satisfying win because the Dodgers had opportunities to win the game late against the Rockies but faltered each time.

"It felt like a no-run game," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said with a laugh.

The home run marked the first time that the Dodgers scored since the fifth inning, when starter Randy Wolf helped out his own cause with a two-out, two-run single off Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

The two-run single was actually keyed by a mixup between Jimenez and catcher Chris Iannetta that led to a balk during the at-bat.

"Iannetta was trying to call timeout so I started to step out, and I realized that the umpire wasn't calling timeout and that Iannetta wasn't ready, so I [lifted my arm] and Jimenez stopped, which is a balk," Wolf said.

Jimenez had a similar explanation as he thought either Wolf or Iannetta had called timeout when, in fact, home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman never signaled for a timeout.

"I heard somebody say, 'Step off,' and when I looked to the plate, the hitter was out [of the batter's box]," Jimenez said. "I thought there was timeout."

The balk moved runners to second and third, and just a few pitches later, Wolf capitalized as he hit a 1-2 slider into right field to tie the score at 2.

"He threw another [slider], and it just happened to be where my swingpath was," Wolf said.

Wolf, though, was saddled with the no-decision after exiting after the sixth inning with the score tied because of a two-run home run by Ryan Spilborghs in the fifth. Wolf, though, was happy with his performance, especially after lasting just 3 1/3 innings his last start.

"It's a huge improvement," Wolf said. "I'm not extremely upset about the home run. But as far as the way I've thrown the last three outings, my command was way better and my stuff was way better."

So it was up to the Dodgers' bullpen the rest of the way as seven relievers combined to toss seven scoreless innings against the Rockies, including Jeff Weaver, who allowed a runner to reach third in the 10th with no outs but struck out three batters to end the inning.

"We keep find ways to win games, but we wouldn't have been able to do it without pitching," Torre said.

The Dodgers actually had golden opportunities to end the game in the ninth, 10th and 12th innings but were unable to capitalize.

Ethier led off the ninth with a double to center field but was stranded after pinch-hitter Brad Ausmus struck out to end the inning against reliever Juan Rincon.

The Dodgers had another opportunity in the 10th when Juan Pierre led off the inning with a single, but Pierre was left at third base after Orlando Hudson grounded out to shortstop on a great play by Troy Tulowitzki before Ethier struck out to end the inning.

Pierre again was the catalyst in the 12th when he reached on a bunt single with one out and stole second with two outs, but Hudson grounded out to third to end the frame.

But Ethier finally ended the game with his two-run home run, making reliever James McDonald the winner after he pitched a scoreless 13th inning.

"To have that thing stay in the air was a beautiful sight for me," Torre said of the home run.

With the win, the Dodgers also improved to 7-2 in extra-inning games, including a 6-1 mark at Dodger Stadium.

"When you play extra-inning games you feel like you have the advantage," Torre said. "You can win it and not have to defend it."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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