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CHC@LAD: Ethier extends hitting streak to 29 games

Another game, another hit for Andre Ethier, and the big story line for Wednesday's game between the Dodgers and Cubs is the same one as it was Tuesday, albeit with ever-increasingly historical stakes: Will he do it again?

Ethier's hit streak reached 29 when he lined a single to right field off Cubs starter Ryan Dempster in the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday's game.

The 29-gamer tied Zack Wheat of the 1916 Brooklyn Robins for the second-longest hitting streak in franchise history, and Ethier is now two games away from the club record owned by Willie Davis, who had a 31-game streak from Aug. 1 to Sept. 3, 1969.

"Zack who? Zack Wheat? Hadn't heard that name," Ethier said after the Dodgers' 4-1 loss on Tuesday. "Pretty neat, but it's still not about the point of trying to win the game and execute. We didn't do that tonight."

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

It'll be up to Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano to try to stem Ethier's tide, and judging from Zambrano's recent travails away from Wrigley Field, he's got a good chance of making that happen.

In his last outing, Zambrano won his ninth consecutive road start with the Cubs' 4-2 victory in Arizona on Friday. He yielded two runs on four hits (one homer) and three walks, while fanning two in six innings. He is 9-0 with a 2.61 ERA on the road since August 14, 2010.

He's also 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in seven career games (five starts) at Dodger Stadium, although he hasn't pitched there since June 7, 2008.

Zambrano settled in after giving up a monumental, 455-foot homer to Justin Upton in his last start and managed to get the win and keep his sense of humor.

"I settled down after that 'cheap' home run by Upton," Zambrano said. "I thought he had more pop than that. But seriously, after that I just said, 'That's all they're going to get and just pitch my game. That's enough!'

"I'm able to command my pitches. Even if I walk somebody, I just get the next guy. For me the key is to throw a strike. I just believe in the stuff that I have and that's it."

Cubs: Bullpen providing plenty of relief
The Cubs' bullpen has recorded a 1.02 ERA (four earned runs in 35 1/3 innings) in its last 10 games, holding the opposition to a .175 batting average (22-for-126).

• Of slugger Alfonso Soriano's 11 homers this season, nine have been solo blasts and seven have led off an inning. Soriano's 11 home runs comprise almost half of the team's 23 homers this season.

• Runs have been scored in the first inning in eight of Chicago's last 10 games dating to April 23. The Cubs have scored nine runs in the opening frame while the opponent has scored 16 runs. Both teams were scoreless in the first inning of Tuesday night's game.

Dodgers: Lilly going for another win
Former Cubs lefty Ted Lilly is coming off a win over San Diego in which he gave up one run in six innings and benefited when the Dodgers rallied for the victory. He allowed leadoff hits in each of the first four innings, but he induced three double plays and finished strong, retiring the final eight batters he faced before being lifted for a pinch-hitter after six innings. "I was able to use my curveball to get a few swings and misses, but a lot of that was set up by throwing strikes with the fastball," Lilly said. In his only start against the Cubs two weeks ago, he allowed five runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision.

• Ethier has done quite well against Zambrano, going 8-for-18 (.444) against the big righty with a double, an RBI and two walks.

• Since April 17, Juan Uribe is batting .364 (16-for-44) with three homers, 12 RBIs and seven runs scored. The Dodgers are 8-5 in the 13 games he's played over that time.

Worth noting
Marlon Byrd is a career .382 batter (39-for-102) in 29 games against the Dodgers. That includes a .425 average (17-for-40) in 10 career games at Dodger Stadium. ... The Dodgers are 14-2 this year when leading or tied after six innings.

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