LOS ANGELES -- The closest anyone has come to Joe DiMaggio's iconic 56-game hitting streak since he eclipsed Wee Willie Keeler's 45-gamer in 1941 was Pete Rose -- who hit in 44 straight in 1978.
Andre Ethier is now halfway to Joltin' Joe.
The Dodgers' All-Star right fielder extended his hitting streak to 28 games with an infield RBI single that capped a three-run fifth inning, and Clayton Kershaw pitched seven strong innings in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.
"Only halfway? It's nothing to get too caught up in or excited about right now," Ethier said with a grin. "There's still a long way to go. I'm more happy about Kershaw getting back on track and us bouncing back after two tough losses to San Diego."
Ethier, who kept his streak alive with a grounder to deep shortstop that Starlin Castro couldn't make a play on, is three games shy of the Dodgers franchise record that Willie Davis set in 1969.
"It's neat to be a part of this and keep it going, but I'm not going up there every at-bat just to extend the streak. I want to get my knocks and do my damage offensively," Ethier said. "I mean, if the streak wasn't going on, I'd be just as [upset] if I got out no matter what the situation was."
Ethier is batting .393 during his streak with three homers and 17 RBIs, a stretch in which the Dodgers have gone 13-15. Davis' streak included all 28 games he played in August and his first three games in September. He batted .435 during that stretch with one homer and 23 RBIs, while the Dodgers went 13-18.
Kershaw (3-3) allowed two runs and eight hits, including Alfonso Soriano's major league-leading 11th homer leading off the seventh. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out four and did not walk a batter for the first time in seven starts this season.
"It was more of a testament to their aggressiveness," Kershaw said. "I mean, it's good not to walk anybody and make them beat you, especially with a lead. Tonight was a battle. I didn't really have anything to put guys away with. It wasn't great, but I got the job done. And we got some runs early, which was nice."
James Russell (1-4) gave up five runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings in his fourth major league start, dropping the Cubs' record to 0-10 when their starters fail to reach the sixth. The left-hander, inserted into the rotation because of an injury to No. 5 starter Andrew Cashner, is 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in that role.
One consolation for Russell: He got his first big league hit with a single in the second inning.
"We're pitching guys that are stretched out and are giving us everything they've got," manager Mike Quade said. "I mean, I didn't look at Russell as a starter, but he's starting for us and he's taken that role and done the best he can with it. He's gotten better, and I think his approach tonight was better. So we'll see what happens down the road, as far as Russell's concerned. But at this point, he's done a nice job."
The Cubs opened the scoring in the first against Kershaw with a two-out RBI double by Geovany Soto after the team went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position during Sunday's 4-3 loss at Arizona.
Until then, the Dodgers were the only team in the majors that hadn't allowed a first-inning run at home.
The Dodgers pulled ahead with two runs in the second. Matt Kemp singled, stole second and came home when Juan Uribe got the green light from rookie manager Don Mattingly on a 3-0 pitch and doubled over the head of right fielder Reed Johnson. Rookie Ivan DeJesus Jr., whose father played shortstop for the Cubs and Dodgers and is now Chicago's third base coach, drove in Uribe with a single inside first base.
Sunday night's spontaneous chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" by fans at the Mets-Phillies game after they got word of Osama bin Laden's death brought back poignant memories for Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday. He elicited a similar reaction from the Dodger Stadium crowd in 1976, when it burst into a chorus of "God Bless America" right after he snatched a flag away from two protesters who attempted to set fire to it in the outfield while he was playing for the Cubs. "I did not have the game on last night, but I saw the replay of what the people did and I got chills watching it -- not as a flashback on what I did, but because of what we're doing right now as a country," said Monday, who spent six years in the Marine Corps reserves. "On 9/11, we got really close. And to see the reaction of what took place last night [everywhere in the country], and then to see it carry over to today does not surprise me at all. I'm glad we're coming together as one again." ... Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster, who turns 34 on Tuesday, will be pitching on his birthday for the first time in 14 big league seasons when he opposes RHP Chad Billingsley. Dempster is 7-3 with a 2.81 career ERA against the Dodgers in 23 appearances, including 13 starts.
- Home Plate Umpire - Jerry Meals
- First Base Umpire - C.B. Bucknor
- Second Base Umpire - Dan Iassogna
- Third Base Umpire - Dale Scott