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CHC@LAD: Ethier's hit streak is halfway to DiMaggio

The Cubs will play the Dodgers again on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, and once again all eyes will be on Andre Ethier.

The Dodgers outfielder hit an RBI single in the fifth inning on Monday night and extended his hitting streak to 28 games, the longest in Major League Baseball this year. He's officially halfway to the Major League record of 56 set by Joe DiMaggio in 1941.

He will be shooting for the big 29 when he faces the Cubs' Ryan Dempster in Dodger Stadium.

"Only halfway? Wow," Ethier said after the Dodgers' 5-2 win over the Cubs. "We've been playing a month or over a month. I guess still a long way to go. Like I said, there's nothing really to get too excited about other than we bounced back after two tough losses there to San Diego."

Ethier, whose streak began April 2 in the Dodgers' second game of the season, is three games away from matching Willie Davis for the longest hitting streak in Dodgers history. Davis had a 31-game streak from Aug. 1 to Sept. 3, 1969.

For more historical perspective, Pete Rose hit safely in 44 straight games in 1978 to set the National League record.

Ethier will be the biggest story heading into the game, which will feature a battle of right-handers: Dempster and the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley.

The Cubs have been struggling to find consistency with starting pitching, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that two of their starters, Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, went on the disabled list in early April.

Then again, Dempster, who allowed seven runs in just one-third of an inning in his last start, has been inconsistent, too, although general manager Jim Hendry said he expects the veteran to snap out of it soon.

"There's nothing wrong with him physically," Hendry said. "He just had a bad month after a great spring. You have to think the human-being factor will get him squared away.

"I think all he needs to do is go out and spin one good one, and he'll get back on track. You factor that with the two guys who went down, [and] we've had to overcome some early adversity."

Cubs: Coming up sixes
Chicago is 12-6 when its starting pitcher works into the sixth inning, including a 6-1 mark in seven games since April 16. Cubs starters have a 3-1 mark with a 2.78 ERA (14 earned runs in 45 1/3 innings pitched) in those seven outings. Conversely, the team is 0-10 when its starter fails to reach the sixth inning, as has happened in eight of Chicago's last 14 games, including Monday night's loss to the Dodgers.

• Outfielder Marlon Byrd is a career .384 batter (38-for-99) in 28 games against the Dodgers. That includes a .432 average (16-for-37) in 10 career games at Dodger Stadium.

• According to Elias Sports Bureau, shortstop Starlin Castro's 40 hits in April tied the Major League mark for the most April hits by a player age 21 or younger. Alex Rodriguez had 40 hits in April 1997.

Dodgers: Ethier familiar with Dempster
Ethier has done well against Dempster in his career. The outfielder is 7-for-20 (.350) against the right-hander with a home run, four doubles, three RBIs and three walks for an on-base percentage of .435 and a slugging percentage of .700 against Dempster.

• Billingsley is 4-3 with a 3.47 ERA in nine games (seven starts) against the Cubs. He beat Chicago on April 22 at Wrigley Field, allowing two runs (one earned) over 6 1/3 innings in the Dodgers' 12-2 win.

• Reliever Matt Guerrier has thrown scoreless ball in 11 of his 13 appearances this season. He leads Dodger relievers with 15 1/3 innings and 13 appearances.

Worth noting
Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija has thrown a season-high 13 consecutive scoreless innings dating to the fifth inning of April 12. He has eight straight scoreless games (12 1/3 innings) to lower his season ERA from 7.50 to his current 2.45 mark. ... Since April 17, Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe is batting .375 (15-for-40) with three homers, 12 RBIs and seven runs scored. The Dodgers are 8-4 in the 12 games he's played over that time.

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