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Ethier's 5-for-5 latest feat in healthy season

LOS ANGELES -- Fans were expecting games like this from the Dodgers right fielder. They just didn't expect the right fielder to be Andre Ethier.

But that wasn't Yasiel Puig going 5-for-5 with a homer to lead a 21-hit assault and an 11-1 rout of the Marlins on Tuesday night. Puig is out with a nagging hamstring, and in his place is Ethier, back in right field, back in the lineup, back in the spotlight.

A former All-Star, Gold Glove Award winner and Silver Slugger Award winner, Ethier's body and career were in decline and he was trade bait once Puig burst on the scene. But Matt Kemp drew the better trade package and went to San Diego, while Ethier returned to the Dodgers intent on showing new management he was more than an extra outfielder.

"You can complain about any situation, but sometimes you just grin and bear it," said Ethier, who matched his career single-game high in hits. "I knew the type of player I was capable of. Not everything goes the way you want. You have to grind through things. You have to figure ways to ride them out."

He showed the payoff for an offseason of hard work with an impressive Spring Training, and he's still showing what he can do when he's healthy, which he said he hasn't been for multiple seasons. A broken finger, knee surgery, a hairline ankle fracture all conspired to keep Ethier from being the player he once was, and now appears to be again.

"They made for long, tough, daunting seasons," he said. "Knock on wood, I'm healthy."

He's batting .329 with five homers, one more than he hit all last year. His fourth-inning blast to center field broke a 1-1 tie in this game, then he added singles in the four-run fifth inning and five-run sixth. The Dodgers had six players with multiple hits, five with multiple runs scored and four with multiple RBIs.

Video: [email protected]: Ethier gives Dodgers the lead with solo shot

In this lineup alone, Ethier is one of three Dodgers who weren't even supposed to be playing. Alex Guerrero, who has hit his way into playing time at third base and left field, had three hits, two RBIs and two runs. Scott Van Slyke, Monday night's walk-off hero, had three hits and two RBIs.

Ethier, Guerrero and Van Slyke are joined by Howie Kendrick (four hits, including a homer), Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal to give the Dodgers six hitters with batting averages above .300.

Ethier predicted that Monday night's dramatic win could create momentum, giving the Dodgers "something to build off." The Dodgers now have a five-game win streak and are a remarkable 15-2 at home, their best home start in the modern era, to go with a 10th consecutive winning home series, the longest in Los Angeles history. They are 19-0 when they score four runs or more.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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