NEW YORK – Andre Ethier wasted little time becoming the first major league player in two years with a 30-game hitting streak.
Ethier has hits in 31 of 32 games he's played this season and is hitting .397 (46 for 116) during the streak.
"I'm not really thinking about it other than for the fact there's been a lot of sport from the teammates, from fans at home," Ethier said. "I've even had fans on the road cheering me on. It's like: 'I want you to get a hit, but don't do too much. Just get one, and have it in a non-key spot.' You don't want to let them down when they're cheering for you like that."
Niese fell behind 3-0, and Ethier lined the next pitch to center field. The previous player with a hitting streak of that length was Washington's Ryan Zimmerman, who hit in 30 straight games from April 8 to May 12, 2009.
"He sees the ball real well, and he puts good swings on them," Niese said. "That first at-bat, I fell behind 3-0 and threw one right down the middle, and he swung away. And I executed a good cutter (in the fifth) away, and broke his bat, and that blooped over the shortstop. Like I said, when you're hot, you're hot."
The 29-year-old Ethier was scratched from the lineup for the first time this season on Wednesday because of an inflamed left elbow. Not one for the treatment room, he started pregame heat and postgame ice Friday.
"I like it a lot better when he gets it early. You feel like you're just rolling through the game at that point," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Even though we talk about it, and he's not worried about it — he says — when you have to answer questions ... it's there. You can't really push that totally out of your mind."
Ethier has the 45th single-season streak of 30 or more games, the 38th from 1900 on, according to STATS LLC. He is one game shy of the Dodgers record, set by Willie Davis from Aug. 1 to Sept. 3, 1969. Ethier surpassed Zack Wheat's 29-game streak for the second-longest in club history. Wheat's streak was from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16, 1916, when the team played in Brooklyn.
"Someone asked me who Zack Wheat was," Ethier said. "I thought he was another minor leaguer we had. I thought he was being called up."
The last player with a streak of more than 30 games was Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who hit in 35 in a row from June 23 to Aug. 3, 2006.
"I'm not losing a wink of sleep about it," Ethier said.
This summer marks the 70th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak for the New York Yankees.
"Fifty-six — that's a long way away," Ethier said
The reeling Dodgers (15-18) lost for the fifth time in six games and matched their season low of three games under .500 (6-9). Juan Uribe drove in a go-ahead run for a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but Hiroki Kuroda (3-3) allowed a three-run homer in the sixth to Jason Pridie following an intentional walk to Ike Davis, who went deep in the second. Jason Bay added an RBI single in the seventh against Blake Hawksworth following another intentional walk, this time to Carlos Beltran.
"You always think you're an idiot when you walk Davis there and get to him, and he does that," said Mattingly, managing for the first time in the city where he became a star with the Yankees. "Kind of your last thought is a three-run homer there, again, especially in this ballpark. There were some balls that were crushed that didn't go out tonight."