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Ethier Powers Dodgers Past Braves

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Randy Wolf had trouble getting his curve ball over for a strike and the Dodgers kept leaving baserunners stranded. But they kept at it until Andre Ethier hit his third walk-off homer and fifth walk-off hit for the season to give the Dodgers the 5-4 improbable win over the Atlanta Braves.

“That boy cold,” Matt Kemp yelled out in the clubhouse after the game while the media were gathered around Ethier.

“He’s been incredible in that situation,” manager Joe Torre said. “You put him in a 2-0 count and the game slows down for him. That’s pretty incredible.”

The Braves struck first in the second inning getting two runs off of Wolf. Yunel Escobar hit a double down the right-center field gap and scored on Matt Diaz’s bloop single. Adam LaRoche then grounded a single up the middle to score Diaz. The inning would end when Lowe hit a blooper that Juan Pierre barely caught in a dive.

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In the fourth inning the curve ball started to fail Wolf. The Braves would load the bases with one out off of back-to-back singles by Garret Anderson and Diaz and a walk to LaRoche. Lowe would strike out looking, but Wolf would walk Nate McLouth after getting ahead with a 1-and-2 count scoring Anderson. After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Wolf got Martin Prado to ground to second.

The cherry of the evening came in the seventh inning when Jones hit a 1-0 pitch to the right centerfield bleachers.

“This is probably by far the best stuff I’ve had all year,” Wolf said of his performance. “It adds to my frustration personally because today I felt great. I definitely felt like I was better than giving up four runs in seven.”

“Wolfie stayed in there, he hung tough,” Torre said. “He had some guys he had trouble with but I thought he pitched well.”

The Dodgers brought the score to 2-1 in the third inning. With one out Andre Ethier hit a triple that glanced off the glove of rightfielder Diaz right at the rightfield wall. Manny then crushed an RBI single to left field to bring in Ethier.

In the bottom of the fourth inning Orlando Hudson got his 1,000th career base hit. Wolf helped his own cause by hitting a single to left center field with Hudson running to third. Hudson came home on Pierre’s sacrifice fly to the centerfield wall. Then during Furcal’s at-bat Wolf got his first stolen base of his career after getting a great lead off of Braves starter Derek Lowe.

“It only took me 10 years to do it,” Wolf said. “I’m right behind Rickey [Henderson] now.”

The Dodgers had their chances having men on base in every inning but could not get over the hump. Finally in the ninth inning after Pierre and Furcal singled, Ethier took care of the game with that one swing.

“It’s just nice to go out there and contribute with these wins,” Ethier said. “They never get old.”

The Dodgers have won their 11th game in walk off fashion, the most in the Majors. This was their 29th come-from-behind victory and their fourth when trailing after eight innings.

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“We really have been anything but consistent here in the last week or so,” Torre said, “but the thing that has been satisfying is we go out there and bust it every night. We play every inning.”

“It’s been a crazy year for me personally,” Wolf mused, “but at the end of the game when we have more runs than they do, regardless of how it happens that’s the goal.”