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Dodgers Extend Win Streak To Nine

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The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Houston Astros 7 - 3 on Andre Ethier Bobblehead Night in front of a sell out crowd of 55,662 to extend the longest current winning streak in Major League Baseball to nine games and sweep the two game Astros series.

“Hopefully we can continue it,” said Manager Joe Torre of their winning ways. “We’re playing well. We just have a nice confidence now.”

With Ethier sidelined by a pesky broken pinkie, Dodgers Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake stepped up on both offense and defense to borrow the spotlight from their injured teammate.

Ramirez’ well-fought at-bat with two outs in the first inning netted enough balls to get him to first and give Dodger bats the chance to damage Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris. James Loney singled home both Ramirez and Matt Kemp (who doubled, and had two hits on the night.) Casey Blake then singled home Loney to take an early 3 - 0 lead.

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While the Astros would tie the game in third inning, Norris couldn’t keep Dodger bats quiet. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings, having allowed six runs and seven hits.

Manny got it going again in the fifth inning with a two run single that plated Russell Martin and pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Manny's hard-charge to the warning track robbed Jeff Keppinger of an extra base hit and Astros runs in the top of the seventh.

Casey Blake was 3-4 on the night with 2 RBI including a seven inning home run into the left field seats labeled Mannywood. Until tonight, his offensive contributions had been minimal during the hot streak. Some members of the media speculated Blake’s turn might have had something to do with his return to sporting a beard.

“We weren’t playing very well as a team, so I wanted to switch it up a little bit,” he said.

While the Dodgers rarely lose when scoring seven runs, Torre stayed on the importance of strong pitching.

“Again, we’re still going to rely on our pitching to make it possible,” he said. “Kuroda tonight, and the three guys coming out of the bullpen -- it was great.”

Starter Hiroki Kuroda didn’t have his tightest outing, but lasted six full innings, let up seven hits, and struck out two across 96 pitches. Kuroda’s two main opponents were Carlos Lee and himself. Carlos Lee’s solo home run in the second put the Astros on the scoreboard. His two run single up the middle tied the game in the third.

“It looked to me like Kuroda had good stuff, it just looked at times he tried to overthrow it,” said Torre. “He threw about 40 pitches that one inning, but he battled through it, settled down, and sort of restored order.”

The Dodgers relief pitchers combined for three scoreless innings. Ronald Bellisario, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Ramon Troncoso allowed just one hit while walking no one.

In addition to Carlos Lee, for the Astros, Jeff Keppinger and Michael Bourn had multi-hit games.

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And Whatnot

* The near-capacity crowd booed the flashing the score of the Celtics victory over the Magics.

* This is first time the Dodgers have won 9 games since 2006 when they won 11.

* Russell Martin’s extended his hitting streak to a career high 13 consecutive games.

* Casey Blake indicated he wouldn't be shaving in the morning.

Follow Caleb Bacon on Twitter @thecalebbacon.

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