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Dodgers demote Ely; Link recalled

LOS ANGELES -- One day after he failed to get through the third inning for the second consecutive start, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander John Ely was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday. To take his roster spot, the team recalled rookie reliever Jon Link from the Isotopes for the fourth time this season.

There was no immediate word on who would replace Ely as the fifth starter, which the Dodgers won't need until July 19 against San Francisco, but Albuquerque right-hander James McDonald appeared to be the favorite.

"J-Mac is pitching tonight [at Omaha], and we'll see what that looks like," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before Sunday night's game with the Chicago Cubs. "We will make a decision at some point. If we need to, we can go all bullpen on that particular day."

There also is some possibility the Dodgers will acquire a starting pitcher before that fifth spot comes up again, or that they will only need to fill the fifth spot a couple of times before acquiring a starter if they can do so by the July 31 trading deadline.

As for Ely, he said he went home after getting lit up for six runs by the Cubs on Saturday and thought about the situation and figured this might be coming given the way he has been pitching lately, giving up 12 runs (11 earned) on 14 hits over a total of five innings in his past two starts.

"That is obviously unacceptable," Ely said. "It isn't fair to this team, to this coaching staff, to myself or to anybody in this locker room."

Ely is 4-7 with a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts overall this season. Link has a 3.89 ERA in 28 appearances for Albuquerque and a 4.15 ERA in four appearances for the Dodgers. Both Ely and Link were acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the Juan Pierre trade last December.

McDonald, who has logged major league time in each of the past two seasons and was in the bullpen for last year's National League Championship Series, pitching 5 1/3 shutout innings over two appearances, allowed a total of four runs over 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts for Albuquerque since returning from an injury earlier this month.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.