LOS ANGELES (AP) - It's not that Andre Ethier is being singled out as the primary reason for the Los Angeles Dodgers' recent swoon. The rest of the team shares equal blame for the team being a season-worst eight games under .500.
But Ethier undoubtedly has been one of the Dodgers' most visible players the past few years, and that has put him under more scrutiny than most. Wednesday's 7-1 loss to Cincinnati only underscored that fact, as the Reds completed their first three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium since 2004.
``Obviously we're going to need production from Andre,' manager Don Mattingly said. ``He needs to get good pitches to hit and hit the ball hard, and the results will be there. He does battle himself, I will say that. Andre's a guy that gets frustrated and gets down on himself. I hope he's not doing that now, because he's got so much talent and such a great swing that you want him to just keep fighting.'
Ethier is hitting .250 with two homers, 15 RBIs and 29 strikeouts in 37 games since getting the final hit of his 30-game hitting streak on May 6. In his first 32 games, he hit .379 with three homers and 17 RBIs. He has gone six games (25 at_bats) since his last RBI and 18 games (66 at_bats) since his last home run.
``I don't think there's any explanation for it, other than the ebbs and flows during the course of the season,' said Mattingly, who was the Dodgers' hitting coach the previous three seasons under Joe Torre.
``But the better players keep those lulls to a minimum. And that's really what Andre has to do. At times you see him chase pitches. I know he's got a good eye, but I've seen him chase that hard breaking ball down.'
The Reds won on manager Dusty Baker's 62nd birthday. His teams are 5-11 on June 15 during his 18 seasons as a manager. It was a far cry from the last two times he was in uniform on his birthday. Last year, Reds lost 12-0 to the Dodgers at Cincinnati - and two years ago Boston routed them 9-0 at Great American Ball Park.
``It was a real nice birthday present,' said Baker, the former Dodgers left fielder. ``It's the first time I can remember winning a game on my birthday in about 10 years. That's the one thing I wanted today. It's rare to come in here and sweep the Dodgers. That was a perfect ending on this West Coast trip, which has really been a nemesis to most teams in the East.'
Scott Rolen led the way for Cincinnati with his first three-RBI game since April 6. He had a pair of run-scoring doubles and an RBI single, all against Chad Billingsley (5-6). Ryan Hanigan and Fred Lewis each had two RBIs.
It was the first time the Dodgers were swept at Chavez Ravine in a three-game series since June 12-13, 2010, when the Angels came up the freeway from Anaheim to bring a 23-7 surge by the Dodgers to a halt.
``When you don't get the results, it's discouraging. It's discouraging for me and it's discouraging for them,' Mattingly said. ``You've got to keep believing that this thing's going to turn, but it's going to take everybody on this club being ready to play. These guys are definitely not quitting. I don't see guys going through the motions. But we're going to have to play solid baseball for a long period of time to get back in this thing.'
Billingsley (5-6) labored through four innings with 88 pitches. He allowed seven runs, nine hits and four walks.
``It's unacceptable the way I'm pitching right now,' Billingsley said. ``I'm just not executing some pitches in some situations. I just wasn't very good today, and just have to come back out and get better and better. I'm going to keep working hard and figure it out. As far as my delivery and mechanics, I feel pretty good. I've been making mistakes up in the zone and out over the plate. I have to eliminate that.'
Travis Wood (5-4) allowed one run, five hits and five walks over six innings. He did not retire more than two batters in a row at any point.
Cincinnati took a 2-1 lead in the second with RBI doubles by Rolen and Lewis. The Reds made it 6-1 in the third on Rolen's run-scoring single, a bases-loaded walk to Lewis and a two-run single by Hanigan.
Handed a five-run cushion, Wood promptly plunked Ethier with his first pitch in the bottom of the third - the first time Ethier was hit this season. But left fielder Jonny Gomes raced toward the foul line and made a diving backhanded grab across the line to rob James Loney of a two-run double.
``I definitely don't play Loney on the line by any means ever,' Gomes said. ``But Woodie had his cutter going and Loney kept fouling balls off to my side. So every pitch he threw, I took another step, and another step, and another step.'
NOTES: During his 19-year playing career with the Braves, Dodgers, Giants and Athletics, Baker was in the starting lineup on his birthday 10 times. He was 13 for 35 with two home runs and nine RBIs in those games, and his teams were 6-4. ... The seven runs against Billingsley were one shy of the total he allowed over 42 innings in his six previous home starts this season. He came in 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA against the Reds at Dodger Stadium. ... Rolen is 8 for 15 lifetime against Billingsley with five RBIs.
The Associated Press News Service
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