LOS ANGELES (AP) — The carousel in the Los Angeles Dodgers' crowded outfield keeps spinning, and center fielder Andre Ethier won't be getting off anytime soon with the way he is swinging the bat and playing defense — especially after left fielder Carl Crawford sprained his ankle.
Ethier drove in the Dodgers' first four runs with a homer and a bases-loaded triple, and Zack Greinke tied a season high with 11 strikeouts in a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
But the jubilation in the clubhouse was subdued after Crawford left the game in the eighth inning with a sprained left ankle. He injured himself chasing down pinch-hitter Chris Heisey's leadoff double into the left field corner. Crawford said that he will have to go on the disabled list, although the club made no such announcement.
Ethier's season-high four RBIs increased his total to 25, despite the outfield situation that had forced manager Don Mattingly to mix and match with Matt Kemp, Crawford, Scott Van Slyke and right fielder Yasiel Puig — the only constant in the bunch. Puig, who came in second in the NL with a .345 average and 38 RBIs, reached base safely for the 28th straight game.
"It's uncomfortable, and it's a tough spot to be in," Ethier said. "I guess this is a situation where too much of a good thing is not necessarily good. But you've got to commend everyone for being professional and handling it as well as they can."
Kemp was not in the starting lineup for the fifth straight game — his longest such stretch without an injury since he became a regular in 2008. Mattingly and his staff are waiting for the two-time Gold Glove center fielder to become comfortable enough in left field to play there on a regular basis alongside Ethier. Kemp pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out.
"I just keep telling Matt: 'Let's go. Keep it going. You're going to be needed, so just be ready for your opportunity,'" said Ethier, Kemp's teammate since 2006.
Greinke (8-1) allowed three runs, eight hits and no walks in 7 2-3 innings. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was lifted after giving up a two-run homer by Devin Mesoraco on his 104th pitch — ending Greinke's streak of 22 consecutive starts in which he had allowed fewer than three earned runs. It was the longest such streak since the dead-ball era.
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