Before Andre Ethier touched home plate, his teammates were leaping out of the dugout. The fans at Dodger Stadium were leaping out of their seats.
October came early to Los Angeles and everyone wearing blue wanted to celebrate.
The latest magical moment in the Dodgers’ remarkable midseason run came Tuesday, when Mark Ellis drove in Ethier with a ninth-inning bloop single to deliver a 3-2, walk-off victory over the New York Yankees.
“These kind of games, we just feel like we’re going to win right now,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers have won 27 of their last 33 games. They have claimed five World Series titles in Los Angeles, but had never won as many games in any previous 33-game stretch since their move from Brooklyn in 1958.
The walk-off win the was the second in a row for the Dodgers, who beat the Cincinnati Reds two days earlier on an 11th-inning home run by Yasiel Puig. They increased their lead over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West to 31/2 games.
“We’re just finding a way to get a big hit, something we weren’t doing earlier in the season,” Ellis said.
He neglected to mention steals. Ethier stole one base in the first three months of the season. But with two out in the ninth inning and Ellis at the plate, he stole second base.
That set up Ellis’ hit off Shawn Kelley, which floated over the head of leaping shortstop Derek Jeter.
“We’re not even blowing teams out, just not making mistakes and never giving up as a team,” starting pitcher Zack Greinke said.
The Dodgers had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Puig doubled off Yankees starter Andy Pettitte and scored on a line-drive single by Hanley Ramirez. The lead was quickly erased, as Lyle Overbay hit a solo home run off Greinke to lead off the second inning and tie it at 1-1.
Juan Uribe moved the Dodgers back in front in the bottom of that inning, as he hit a solo home run of his own, a towering shot to left field that landed in the second deck. The home run was the sixth of the season for Uribe, matching his total from the last two seasons combined.
The Dodgers nearly added to their lead in the third inning, when Ramirez doubled and attempted to score on a single to right field by A.J. Ellis. But Ramirez was thrown out easily at the plate by rifle-armed Ichiro Suzuki.
The Dodgers remained ahead, 2-1, until the fourth inning. Alfonso Soriano doubled to left and reached third on a wild pitch by Greinke. Soriano was pushed home by a groundout by Overbay, once again leveling the score, 2-2.
Starting with Overbay, Greinke retired 10 consecutive batters. The streak was broken by a one-out double to left by Suzuki in the seventh inning, but Greinke retired the next two batters.
Greinke limited the Yankees to five hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a single batter, giving him a 1.75 earned-run average over his last five starts.
A perfect eighth inning by setup man Ronald Belisario was followed by a perfect ninth by closer Kenley Jansen, who got the win.
Carl Crawford, who missed the previous two games with a 102-degree fever, returned to the Dodgers’ lineup. He was hitless in four at-bats.