Andre Ethier ups hit streak to 30

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 30 games -- second-longest in franchise history and tied for the longest in the majors over the past five seasons -- with a line single to center field off New York Mets left-hander Jon Niese in the top of the first inning at Citi Field on Friday night.

Ethier surpassed Zack Wheat for second place on the list of all-time Dodgers hitting streaks, Wheat having hit in 29 consecutive games in 1916. Ethier now is one game short of tying Willie Davis' franchise mark of 31 consecutive games set in 1969.

"Someone asked me who Zack Wheat was," Ethier said before the game. "I thought he was another minor leaguer we had. I thought he was being called up."

The last player with a streak of more than 30 games was Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who hit in 35 in a row from June 23 to Aug. 3, 2006.

"I'm not losing a wink of sleep about it," Ethier said before the game, happy to discuss his streak.

This summer marks the 70th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak for the New York Yankees.

"Fifty-six -- that's a long way away," Ethier said.

Ethier is the first player to hit in 30 consecutive games since Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals also hit in 30 in a row two years ago. Two other players -- Willy Tavarez of the Houston Astros in 2006 and Moises Alou of the Mets in 2007 -- have had 30-game hitting streaks since Utley's. Ethier has the 45th single-season streak of 30 or more games, the 38th from 1900 on, according to STATS LLC.

Ethier has hit safely in 31 of the 32 games he has played this season. Ethier went 3-for-5 in the Dodgers' 6-3 loss, and is now hitting .397 (46-for-116) during the streak.

"I'm not really thinking about it other than for the fact there's been a lot of support from the teammates, from fans at home," Ethier said after the game. "I've even had fans on the road cheering me on. It's like: 'I want you to get a hit, but don't do too much. Just get one, and have it in a non-key spot.' You don't want to let them down when they're cheering for you like that."

Ehtier returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's game against the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles with elbow inflammation.

Ethier was examined at a local hospital after the team's arrival on Wednesday, at which time he underwent X-rays on the left elbow. He said he wasn't advised on whether he risked additional damage to the elbow by continuing to play.

"No one told me not to, so I'm not going to sit there and worry about it," Ethier said. "We did a few things [at the hospital]. It's probably a bone bruise or just a sprained elbow. I think I can properly take care of it. The fact of getting [to the ballpark] early and stretching it out went well, just going through the stuff I usually do. I told [Dodgers manager] Donnie [Mattingly] the other day that after five or six swings, it started feeling good, but those first three or four were kind of painful."

Ethier also shrugged off critical comments former Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa made about him not playing Wednesday.

"An inflamed elbow, if that's what it is, I'm one of those guys that you've got to play through that, especially if you play in the outfield," Bowa said on SiriusXM Radio Thursday. "If you were an infielder, you'd have to throw with that arm, and that's another thing. But how many plays does an outfielder get? To me, unless it was really, really bad, I'm going to play him."

Ethier had started every game this season until being scratched from the lineup about a half-hour before game time after taking a few swings in the indoor batting cage. He was available to pinch hit, but was never called upon to do so. After the game, Ethier said the problem bothered him more throwing than hitting.

Bowa, who added that he was "shocked" Ethier wasn't in the lineup, said Ethier should have played not because of the hitting streak but because the Dodgers are struggling and he is one of the hottest and most dangerous hitters. He said he was hurting the team by sitting.

"That is his job, to put stuff out on that show that he's on," Ethier said of Bowa's comments. "I'm not big on commenting on other people's comments. ... I have buddies at home saying the same stuff. I got text messages the other day saying, 'What's going on, why aren't you playing,' guys giving me a hard time."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.