Ethier's 3-run homer gives Dodgers 29th come-from-behind win of season
LOS ANGELES -- Andre Ethier has been making a habit of creating mob scenes at home plate at Dodger Stadium and sending opposing teams back to the dugout shaking their heads.
Ethier hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Atlanta closer Rafael Soriano -- his major league-leading fifth walkoff hit of the season -- to give Los Angeles a 5-4 victory over the Braves on Thursday night.
The Dodgers recorded their 11th walkoff win and 29th come-from-behind victory to improve the best record in the majors to 67-42.
"We really have been anything but consistent in the last week of so, but the thing that's been satisfying to me is that these guys go out there and bust it every night," said manager Joe Torre, whose team was facing their eight loss in 12 games before Ethier's dramatics.
"They play every inning and keep coming back at people. There's nine innings in this game. So with that part of the batting order coming up in the ninth inning, all we had to do was get the tying run to the plate and we had a chance."
Juan Pierre led off the ninth with an infield hit. Rafael Furcal's hit-and-run single sent Pierre to third, and Ethier drove a 2-0 pitch to right field for his 23rd homer and third walkoff. He raised his team-leading RBI total to 72 -- just five shy of his career best.
"He's been incredible in that situation," Torre said. "This kid hasn't really played a lot of major league baseball. And to just have that kind of calm in those situations is pretty special. Soriano fell behind him 2-0, and he knows that Manny [Ramirez] is behind Ethier. So it's that old rock and a hard place, and he has to throw a strike."
The victory went to rookie Scott Elbert (2-0), who pitched a hitless ninth.
Soriano (1-3) had his third blown save in 19 attempts.
"No one feels any worse than Soriano," Braves starter Derek Lowe said. "Anytime something happens where your team ends up walking off the field like that, you feel the worst. But there were eight other innings before that. I knew, having played here, that they're extremely good at home.
"I don't know how many comeback wins they have -- especially late -- but it seems like they do it quite often. They're never out of it, and they have the best record for a reason."
Lowe allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings against his former team and left with a 3-2 lead. Chipper Jones made it 4-2 in the seventh with his 14th homer, the 422nd of his career.
"We gave up two cheap hits to lead off the ninth and then got behind on Ethier, who's a good hitter, and he won the game for them," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
It was the third homer given up by Soriano in 50 innings.
Randy Wolf gave up four runs, nine hits and three walks over seven innings in his rematch with Lowe. Last Saturday, Wolf lost a 4-3 decision to him. The no-decision was Wolf's 13th in 24 starts.
"We've been struggling a little bit to play consistently and get back on track," said Ethier, who was on the bottom of a pile of players at home plate. "D. Lowe pitched a great game, but so did Wolf and we found a way to get it done."
Pierre's sacrifice fly in the fourth trimmed Atlanta's lead to 3-2, and was the only fly ball against Lowe in the first five innings.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the second when Matt Diaz hit a two-out RBI single, stole second and scored on Adam LaRoche's single. LaRoche is 11 for 21 with three RBIs in six games since joining the Braves last Friday in a trade that sent first baseman Casey Kotchman to Boston.
Ramirez's RBI single in the third scored Ethier, who had tripled. The Braves restored their two-run lead in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Nate McLouth.
Lowe and Ramirez, who won a World Series title together with Boston in 2004, faced each other for the first time in a regular-season game. Ramirez was 2 for 3 against him. ... Pierre batted in the ninth spot and was 1 for 3. He is 9 for 26 with two RBIs in those games, and the Dodgers are 4-4. ... Lowe has allowed eight home runs over 143 innings in his 24 starts with the Braves, after giving up 76 homers over the previous four seasons.
ATL Wins 3-1
- Home Plate Umpire - Laz Diaz
- First Base Umpire - Eric Cooper
- Second Base Umpire - Mike Reilly
- Third Base Umpire - Chuck Meriwether