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Grand finale: Ethier slams winner for LA

Grand finale: Ethier slams winner for LA

LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier continued his early-season run at the rare hitter's Triple Crown with a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth Thursday night for an improbable 7-3 Dodgers win over the Brewers in a game that included key performances from rookies John Ely and Xavier Paul.

Ely would have had his first Major League win except closer Jonathan Broxton let it get away. Pitching for the first time in six days with a 3-1 lead, the rusty Broxton allowed two runs on four hits in the ninth and instead of recording his second save was charged with his second blown save.

Then, through the mysterious ways of official scoring rules, Broxton walked away with the victory, because Ethier walked away with another walk-off hit, the 11th of his career. It came off LaTroy Hawkins on a 2-2 fastball, the second slam of his career. Jamey Carroll led off the inning with a single, and after pinch-hitter Garret Anderson's flyout, Paul singled, Carroll hustled to third on a wild pitch and Matt Kemp walked to load the bases and bring the outfield in for Ethier. What remained of an announced crowd of 38,456 rose for the occasion.

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"I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that the fans start standing up, I don't know if they're expecting it now every time," Ethier said. "Yeah, well, apparently it's a good thing. I was awful in this situation at the beginning of not just my career in pro ball but even in college and in high school. I think I had a tendency to press too much and I think you guys saw a glimpse of that tonight, the 2-0 pitch I chased ball up in the zone. I was definitely able to recover and calm back down."

The home run on a 91 mph fastball down the middle went to almost dead center, his 10th of the year to go with 30 RBIs and a .371 average.

"I don't know what it is, for some reason I just keep getting up in that situation," said Ethier, greeted at the plate with a teammate dogpile. "When I get an opportunity to do it, I can't figure it out. If you can do it, you might have to look up who else has as many opportunities to win games like that. I don't know what it is, but it's a lot."

And the success rate is so high, his manager is starting to expect it.

"With the opportunities he's had and as many times as he's done it, I don't remember anybody being as heroic as him of all the guys I managed," said Joe Torre, who held a team meeting after back-to-back blowout losses.

Ethier will be right back in the lineup Friday night, but if you want to see Ely and Paul next week, head to Albuquerque. That's where management is planning to send them.

Ely, in his second Major League start, tamed a Brewers offense that scored 11 runs back to back, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings and retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point. Paul had two hits, scored twice, stole a base, walked and drove in a run as the left fielder and leadoff hitter.

But Jeff Weaver (Friday) and Manny Ramirez (Saturday) are coming off the disabled list and roster spots are needed, unless somebody else gets hurt.

"I don't know," Torre said when asked if Ely would be rewarded for his quality start with a demotion to Triple-A. "We'll meet tomorrow and figure it out. We need to create a spot for Weaver. I told you the other day, it's a situation, because of the fact he's one that can be sent [optioned] without losing him. I'm not saying that's the way it's going to be, it's one of the options."

Maybe instead of sending more rookies down, the Dodgers should be calling more of them up.

"If I go down, I'll just go and keep throwing the ball," said Ely. "What else can you do? I knew coming up it wasn't a permanent thing."

It was a surprise even to him when Ely was promoted last week. With three games of Triple-A experience, he debuted in a loss against the Mets, followed three days later by the first start of Carlos Monasterios. It's the first time in Los Angeles history that the Dodgers were so short of pitchers so early in the season that two made their first Major League starts in April.

Ely was roughed up for five runs in six innings by the Mets, but just because he has a slow fastball doesn't mean he isn't a quick study. He never broke 90 mph against the Brewers, but allowed only four singles, the lone run scoring when the last batter he faced, Gregg Zaun, won a 12-pitch battle with a bloop RBI single.

"You don't have to throw 90," said catcher Russell Martin. "He can really pitch."

Ely also figured prominently in the Dodgers' two-run second inning. He followed Carroll's two-out double with a bouncer that third baseman Casey McGehee threw wide and first baseman Prince Fielder mishandled while avoiding the runner, allowing Carroll to score and Ely to take second. He scored the first run of his professional career on Paul's double.

"I don't let it affect me," Paul said of his lack of job security. "I approach every game like it might be my last. Going down is the last thing I think about."

Ken Gurnick 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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