Andre Ethier must be a great surprise to the many who had written him off, figuring at 33 he was done and untradeable, a huge weight around a team with championship aspirations.
But Ethier is having a terrific season, made evident again Saturday when he came off the bench to drive in the go-ahead runs in the Dodgers' 5-2 victory over the Cubs.
The Dodgers, wobbling and looking like a team in retreat when the week started on a five-game losing streak, have now won five consecutive games. With the Giants losing Saturday, the Dodgers extended their lead in the National League West to 3½ games, matching their biggest lead since the All-Star break.
Ethier has been strong all season for the Dodgers, but particularly of late. Playing almost exclusively against right-handers, he's hit .410 (25 for 61) over his last 23 games. His two-run single highlighted a four-run seventh for the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth to pick up his 27th save after Luis Avilan, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell and Chris Johnson held the Cubs scoreless over the final 4 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers started Mat Latos for the first time since Aug. 13, when the Reds were pushing him around for five runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Dodgers temporarily went with a four-man rotation, at one point sending Latos to their Phoenix training complex just so he could pitch a simulated game.
Manager Don Mattingly said Latos will remain in the rotation the rest of the season, so there's a strong chance of seeing a lot more of what Latos offered Saturday.
He had a 6.75 ERA after three starts as a Dodger, but turned in a slightly better outing, if still only going 4 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on four hits and three walks, striking out five.
The Cubs first got to him with a run in the second inning after Kris Bryant led off with a single, took second base on a groundout and third on a wild pitch. Addison Russell fouled out to Carl Crawford in left field, Bryant tagging and scoring without a throw.
The Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the third inning against Jon Lester, the left-hander the Cubs signed in the off-season for six years at $155 million. Rookie Jose Peraza led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by a Latos bunt, stole third for his first career steal and scored when Enrique Hernandez was safe on an infield single.
The Cubs regained the lead in the fifth, with a major assist from Latos. Russell led off with a single, and after Justin Turner made a nice diving catch in foul territory when Lester attempted to bunt, took third on a Tommy La Stella hit.
The Dodgers shifted their infield right for Kyle Schwarber, with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez playing back on the edge of the infield. Latos faked a throw to first even though there was no one there to take the throw and was called for a balk that allowed Russell to score. It was Latos' fifth career balk, the last one coming three years ago to the day in Arizona.
With Lester looking strong, it appeared for a long time the Dodgers might actually lose the game on a balk. But then came their four-run seventh inning.
Crawford started it with a single, stole second and moved to third on an A.J. Ellis single. Peraza doubled to right-center field to score Crawford with the tying run and earn his first RBI. Ethier pinch-hit and singled through a drawn-in infield to score Ellis and Peraza.