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It's a Broxton meltdown as Dodgers fall, 4-1, to Cubs

May 3, 2011 | 10:24 pm

Andre3 Jonathan Broxton is living on the edge. And right now, he’s teetering the wrong way.

It’s uncertain how long manager Don Mattingly can put up with Broxton as his closer, but after Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Cubs, it can’t be too long.

On a night when Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 29 games, Broxton entered the ninth in a 1-1 tie.

After getting an initial out, he threw eight consecutive balls. When Mattingly, who has demonstrated a quicker trigger finger in player moves than predecessor Joe Torre, came out to get  him, he was cheered.

When Broxton walked off, he was booed. The previous night he had retired the Cubs in order, but on Tuesday his velocity dropped to he low 90s. His form look off, almost awkward.

Broxton has converted seven of eight save opportunities, but few have looked clean. He has a 5.68 ERA.

His cause wasn’t helped Tuesday when Blake Hawksworth replaced him and gave up a two-run double to Geovany Soto that got past Matt Kemp and a run-scoring single to ex-Dodger Blake DeWitt.

The Dodgers were still looking for their first hit against right-hander Ryan Dempster when Ethier came to bat with one out in the fourth.

After losing his bat when he swung it into the stands on a 1-1 pitch, he calmly got a new Louisville Slugger and drove a soft liner just over the reach of second baseman Darwin Barney.

Barney momentarily appeared to have a play on the ball, but he leapt awkwardly and the ball landed for a hit.

The hit tied Ethier with Zack Wheat for the second longest streak in franchise history, Wheat managing it in 1916 for the Brooklyn Robins. The only one left in front of Ethier now is Willie Davis and his 31- game hitting streak, set in 1969.

The starters battled in a tight pitching dual through seven innings.

It was scoreless through five innings when the Dodgers first scratched a run off Dempster in the sixth. Jamey Carroll led off with a single and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Jerry Sands.

Ethier grounded out, but Kemp lined a single to center to score Carroll and give the Dodgers a brief 1-0 lead.

Brief, because with one out in the seventh struggling Carlos Pena hit his first home run of the season, connecting off Chad Billingsley on a drive into the Cubs bullpen.

It was Billingsley’s only mistake of the night. In his seven innings, he allowed the one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out eight.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Andre Ethier extends his hitting streak to 29 games during the Dodgers' 4-1 loss Tuesday to the Chicago Cubs. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire