LOS ANGELES -- It was a baby step, but a big one, if that makes sense.
The Los Angeles Dodgers beat a team they should beat, the Miami Marlins, on Saturday night. But the way things had been going for these guys, nothing seemed like a tap-in. And in doing so, L.A. snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 7-1 win in front of 42,208 fans at Dodger Stadium.
Slumping players hit. A rotation beset by short outings got a long, almost-dominant start. A defense that has been uneven was reliable and, occasionally, spectacular. It was textbook stuff, a team finally playing up to its capabilities after weeks of sleepwalking.
Now, we find out if it will amount to anything. The Dodgers still are seven games under .500. They are attempting to become the 30th team in baseball history to go through an eight-game losing streak and make the postseason, the fourth to win a World Series.
And above all else, Andre Ethier broke out. Ethier went into Saturday in one of the worst slumps of his career, batting .209 since April 20. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thought Ethier was getting frustrated with his early at-bats and struggling to maintain any consistency. Saturday, he had a contained approach and went 4-for-4 with four solidly struck line-drive hits.
Hyun-Jin Ryu set an early tone, mowing down the Marlins through the first three innings, as the Dodgers got steady traction against Kevin Slowey. Ryu has been one of the few pleasant surprises for Mattingly and the Dodgers. He has gotten the ball into the seventh inning in each of his starts. Not even Clayton Kershaw can say that.
Ryu got a loud, standing ovation when he left the mound with two outs in the seventh inning.
The Dodgers had a wild third inning, scoring twice, but getting two players thrown out on the bases. Matt Kemp got a little excited rounding second base -- perhaps unaware that Adrian Gonzalez was being held at third -- and was cut down by Marcell Ozuna; and Schumaker appeared to pick up a bloop hit to left, but Matt Diaz forced Ethier out at third.
The Dodgers didn't fold after that foiled rally, though. They scored again in the fifth, chasing Slowey after 102 pitches with two outs in the inning. Slowey came into Saturday's game with a 1.61 ERA in his first seven starts.