05/16/10 7:35 PM ET
Dodgers try to stay hot without Ethier
By Zach Schonbrun / MLB.com
But when the Dodgers' star slugger left the batting cage before Saturday's game with a fractured finger, Los Angeles' worst-case scenario was suddenly unfolding.
A day later, the news regarding Ethier -- who leads the National League in average and RBIs and is tied for the home runs lead -- hadn't improved, and he had a splint placed on his right little finger after an examination by a hand specialist.
In the meantime, the Dodgers will hold their breath and wait for results, whether it means missing the team's offensive catalyst for only a few days or longer.
Left-handed-hitting Garret Anderson started in right field against Padres right-hander Kevin Correia in Saturday's 4-1 win. Right-handed-hitting Reed Johnson started in right, with Anderson starting in left field, against left-hander Wade LeBlanc in Sunday's 1-0 win.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to start for Houston.
"It's disappointing, but these are the potholes you have to deal with," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
A fractured finger isn't wholly catastrophic, thankfully, for Ethier. But it does come at a bad time for the Dodgers, who have won seven straight thanks in no small part to Ethier's .490 average and 19 RBIs in May.
The Dodgers will have to make do somehow offensively while continuing to ride its terrific starting pitching of late. L.A.'s rotation has a miniscule 1.91 ERA in the past seven games.
It won't be easy facing Rodriguez, who is still working his way into last year's form, when he had a 0.75 ERA in two starts vs. the Dodgers. Rodriguez took a 9-1 lead into the sixth inning against St. Louis in his last start but gave up four runs in the frame.
And the Dodgers, who squeaked out a 1-0 victory over San Diego on Sunday, will continue to have a certain sterling slugger in the back of their minds.
"It stinks, honestly," Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw said of Ethier's injury. "The best player in the game, the best hitter for sure. It's definitely not something we're excited about."
Astros: Matsui has Mills' confidence
Astros manager Brad Mills gave struggling second baseman Kaz Matsui a vote of confidence despite an 0-for-16 slump. Jeff Keppinger has been getting the majority of starts at second base, but Mills said he will continue to look at playing Matsui against right-handers.
Matsui is batting just .149 this season with one RBI, after hitting .250 with 19 stolen bases in 132 games last year.
"The attitude is there, the desire to work and get better is there," Mills said. "That's what we're after."
Dodgers: Relievers on roll
In the past 17 games, the bullpen has a 3.25 ERA -- a transformation from the first month of the season, when the relievers had a collective ERA above 5.00. Closer Jonathon Broxton has six saves in the past nine games.
The Dodgers completed a perfect road trip (6-0) for the first time since 2006. ... Astros left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak received a cortisone shot Friday for his troubled back and rejoined the team to continue rehabbing on Sunday. ... The Dodgers announced Ramon Ortiz will make his second start Wednesday against the Padres.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.