LOS ANGELES (AP) — The carousel in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ crowded outfield keeps spinning, and center fielder Andre Ethier won’t be getting off anytime soon with the way he is swinging the bat and playing defense — especially after left fielder Carl Crawford sprained his ankle.
Ethier drove in the Dodgers’ first four runs with a homer and a bases-loaded triple, and Zack Greinke tied a season high with 11 strikeouts in a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
But the jubilation in the clubhouse was subdued after Crawford left the game in the eighth inning with a sprained left ankle. He injured himself chasing down pinch-hitter Chris Heisey’s leadoff double into the left field corner. Crawford said that he will have to go on the disabled list, although the club made no such announcement.
Ethier’s season-high four RBIs increased his total to 25, despite the outfield situation that had forced manager Don Mattingly to mix and match with Matt Kemp, Crawford, Scott Van Slyke and right fielder Yasiel Puig — the only constant in the bunch. Puig, who came in second in the NL with a .345 average and 38 RBIs, reached base safely for the 28th straight game.
“It’s uncomfortable, and it’s a tough spot to be in,” Ethier said. “I guess this is a situation where too much of a good thing is not necessarily good. But you’ve got to commend everyone for being professional and handling it as well as they can.”
Kemp was not in the starting lineup for the fifth straight game — his longest such stretch without an injury since he became a regular in 2008. Mattingly and his staff are waiting for the two-time Gold Glove center fielder to become comfortable enough in left field to play there on a regular basis alongside Ethier. Kemp pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out.
“I just keep telling Matt: ‘Let’s go. Keep it going. You’re going to be needed, so just be ready for your opportunity,'” said Ethier, Kemp’s teammate since 2006.
Greinke (8-1) allowed three runs, eight hits and no walks in 7 2-3 innings. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was lifted after giving up a two-run homer by Devin Mesoraco on his 104th pitch — ending Greinke’s streak of 22 consecutive starts in which he had allowed fewer than three earned runs. It was the longest such streak since the dead-ball era.
Kenley Jansen followed J.P. Howell out of the bullpen and pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
Alfredo Simon (6-3) threw 70 pitches in 3 2-3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and four walks after going 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his first five road starts. The right-hander was the first Reds pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to win his first five road starts of a season while allowing no more than five hits in any of them.
Simon retired his first two batters in the second before Ethier drove the next pitch to right-center for his third home run of the season. It ended a drought of 83 at-bats since his previous long ball, a three-run shot against Arizona’s Mike Bolsinger on April 19 at Dodger Stadium.
Ethier came up in the fourth with three men on after a one-out intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, and lined a 2-1 pitch into the right field corner for his first triple of the year.
Chone Figgins, starting at third base for the injured Juan Uribe, capped the rally with an RBI single to make it 5-0.
“Alfredo’s strength really so far, beyond having very good stuff, has been to execute quality pitches. And that got away from him a little bit in the fourth,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “With Greinke pitching, we were in a position where we couldn’t give up a bulk of runs. But they had a big inning. And when Greinke’s on, that’s a knockout blow.”
Roger Bernadina drove in Cincinnati’s first run with a fifth-inning single.
For the first time in three games, a Dodgers starter gave up a hit before the eighth inning. Todd Frazier — whose leadoff double in the eighth on Monday night broke up Hyun-Jin Ryu’s bid for a perfect game following Josh Beckett’s no-hitter on Sunday at Philadelphia — singled with one out in the second.
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez was 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the cleanup spot, after missing four games because of a sore left calf.
- Reds 2B Brandon Phillips, 3 for 16 lifetime against Greinke, got the night off. But he did bring Price’s lineup card to home plate for the exchange with the umpires.