Third straight win helps ease pain for Dodgers

Third straight win helps ease pain for Dodgers

Third straight win helps ease pain for Dodgers
PHOENIX -- Winning shouldn't hurt this much.

The Dodgers lost another player Thursday afternoon, found another victory a few hours later and somehow managed to extend their first-place lead over the Giants in the National League West to 1 1/2 games.

The Dodgers, who topped the D-backs, 4-1, in the first game of the series at Chase Field, have been in sole possession or tied for first place in the division for 77, sometimes painful, days this season.

It's quite a feat when you consider the Dodgers have had 15 players, including Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, spend time on the disabled list. On Wednesday, the club activated Mark Ellis from the DL but placed shortstop Dee Gordon on the list with a thumb injury one day later.

Kemp and Ethier are expected to join the club soon after the All-Star break, but Gordon will not be back for at least six weeks.

"You can win a game every day with big league guys in a big league game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "You can beat anybody any day and that's the way I look at it."

Mattingly might be on to something.

If his club missed anybody on Thursday, it sure didn't show it. The Dodgers might be shorthanded, but they are starting to play like the team that roared through the first part of the season with the best record in baseball.

"It's such a long season and we have had so many injuries and so many different guys coming in and trying to get the chemistry together," said Ellis, who went 2-for-4. "There are so many guys in and out of a lineup it was bound to happen at some point. Hopefully, we can get over that hump and continue to play good baseball the rest of the way."

The Dodgers have won three in a row but have still lost six of their last 10 games. The loss was the sixth in a row for the D-backs, who sit four games under the .500 mark with a 39-43 record.

"They are trying to hang on until they get their guys back," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "They've done a heck of a job, give them credit. Their role players have done a great job. We have a tall task to beat."

The Dodgers scored two runs in the first inning, the first on a double by Juan Rivera off D-backs starter Wade Miley and the second on a single by Luis Cruz, who started at shortstop and was in the lineup for the fourth consecutive game, for a 2-0 lead.

Right fielder Scott Van Slyke hit a home run, his second of the season, in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 3-1. Elian Herrera's first career home run came in the top of the seventh to push the Dodgers' lead to 4-1.

Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi stymied Arizona's offense, limiting the D-backs to one run on five hits in six innings for his first victory of the season and second of his brief career. Eovaldi's first win also came against the D-backs last August in his Major League debut.

It's hard to blame Eovaldi for smiling in front of his locker after the game. He received four runs of support Thursday, one more than in his previous seven starts combined.

"It was nice to get the early run support," Eovaldi said. "We had good plays behind me. We stayed on their starter so it was nice."

The Dodgers are now 7-3 in their last 10 games at Chase Field. Thursday's win also snapped a four-game losing streak on the road.

"We just went through a rough patch," Mattingly said. "Like I said, we are just trying to scratch and fight for every win we can get, hoping to get Matt and Andre and our guys back."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.