Baseball / Sports

For the Dodgers, three consecutive wins is news

CINCINNATI -- As statistics go, this one is pretty telling. Also, pretty ridiculous.

The major league teams without a winning streak of longer than three games this season: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

Which one of these teams does not belong?

That group includes the last-place team in the National League West, the last place team in the American League Central, the two teams at the bottom of the National League East -- and the Dodgers, the one with the world-record payroll and World Series aspirations.

On Tuesday, the Dodgers pounded the Cincinnati Reds, 6-1. On Wednesday, the Dodgers will go for their first four-game winning streak this season. It is time to roll, past time to get on a roll.

Is this the roll?

"We'll find out," outfielder Andre Ethier said. "We've got to keep going. We don't want to sit here and waste an opportunity."

The Dodgers have gained a game on the first-place San Francisco Giants on consecutive nights. The NL West deficit is down to 71/2 games, with 96 to play.

"We have to keep chipping away," Ethier said. "If we can make up one game at a week, we'll be fine at the end."

This could be something of a reprise to last season. The Dodgers went deep into last June without winning more than three consecutive games, falling as far as 91/2 games out of first place. Then they won six in a row, the start of the historic 42-8 run that took them from worst to first.

"You can only look back on it later," Manager Don Mattingly said. "When we went through that situation last year, you didn't know when it started. We didn't know it was going to be the start of something huge."

The Dodgers have won four of their last five games. That is the kind of roll for which Mattingly prefers to aim -- not a long winning streak, but winning a series, two games out of three, and three games out of four.

"Win series, and do that for awhile," Mattingly said. "You can't look at it as winning 10 in a row to get on a roll."

The schedule could hardly be kinder. The Dodgers do not face a team with a winning record in their next 14 games.

Then again, they have not faced a team with a winning record since May 14. They are 13-11 in that stretch -- meaning they had played .500 ball during that time until beating the Reds here Monday and Tuesday.

"We've just got to win series," pitcher Josh Beckett said. "I don't think anybody looks at how far ahead or how far behind we are."

Beckett did not look at the forecast Tuesday. When the Dodgers arrived at the ballpark in the afternoon, the skies were partly sunny. That turned into mostly cloudy, then entirely cloudy, and the Dodgers had to scurry off the field when the rain came and cut short their batting practice.

Beckett, 34, had to stay loose during a two-hour rain delay, hanging out in the weight room and trying not to let the foul weather foul up his mood.

"I'm not 23 years old any more," he said. "I was ready for a 7:10 game."

The game started at 9:17 p.m. Beckett threw six shutout innings for the victory, not that he wants to star in rain delay theater again.

"It's been awhile since I sat through one of those," he said. "That's one of the things about playing in L.A. You don't have to worry about that too much."

Dodgers 6, Reds 1

KEY MOMENT: Adrian Gonzalez doubled to lead off the second inning, snapping an 0-for-20 skid, and Andre Ethier doubled him home. Neither Gonzalez nor Ethier had an extra-base hit this month. The Dodgers had the lead for good, and Gonzalez doubled again, the first multihit game for the Dodgers' cleanup hitter this month and his first game with multiple extra-base hits since May 20.

AT THE PLATE: The Dodgers tied a season high with five doubles, with the two from Gonzalez and one each from Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon. The Dodgers' 12 hits included two from Justin Turner, who has raised his batting average from .252 to .276 in four days with eight hits in 19 at-bats.

ON THE MOUND: Josh Beckett (4-3) pitched six scoreless innings for the victory, giving up two hits and striking out seven. His pitch counts in the three starts since his 128-pitch no-hitter: 88, 99, 90. Beckett also executed a perfect Punch-and-Judy maneuver, pulling back his bat from an apparent bunt attempt to chop a single into left field, a pivotal hit in the Dodgers' three-run fifth inning.

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