LOS ANGELES -- Walks haven't hurt John Ely in his last three starts -- because he hasn't allowed any.
Ely held a struggling Houston Astros lineup to a pair of runs and five hits over seven innings, Casey Blake and Blake DeWitt each drove in two runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak to eight games with a 6-2 victory Monday night.
Ely (2-1) threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of his 25 hitters and went to a three-ball count just five times. The rookie right-hander, who turned 24 last Thursday, has faced 84 consecutive batters without allowing a base on balls -- the longest current streak in the majors.
"I try not to think about that at all. I'm just going out there with the same game plan -- trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down," Ely said. "I'm a competitor and I hate giving in to guys, so I'm going to go at them. If they beat me, that's fine. But at least I know I went at them with my best stuff. I'm getting a little more confidence each time out and learning how to face different kinds of hitters."
Ely struck out eight in his fourth career start, six days after beating Arizona for his first big-league victory.
"I've got enough confidence in what I'm bringing to the table. So if I execute my pitch where I want it, I feel like I have the advantage no matter who I'm facing," Ely said. "That's the way you've got to feel every time out -- because if you doubt yourself, you're going to start giving up hits."
The Astros had a difficult time working counts on Ely because of his pinpoint control.
"You try to work the count at first because you want to get to know the pitcher and see all of his pitches, if you can, so that you can get an idea of what he throws," cleanup hitter Carlos N. Lee said after going 0 for 4. "He had good command and he threw all of his pitches on any count. He was moving the ball around pretty good and he got ahead of the hitters, which was very important for him."
Ely has three walks and 25 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings through his first four outings.
"To be honest, I don't think he was that difficult to hit. I know that's hard to say after the game he threw, but we're struggling as an offense right now," Jeff Keppinger said after Houston's fourth straight loss. "He gave us pitches to hit, but we didn't capitalize. Maybe he just caught the right team at the right time."
The Dodgers won for the 13th time in 16 games and did it without right fielder Andre Ethier, who missed his third straight game with a small fracture in his right pinky. He entered Monday leading the majors in batting average (.392) and RBI (38) and was tied for the NL lead in home runs with 11.
The Astros got an RBI single from Lance Berkman in the first inning, but the Dodgers came back with three runs in the bottom half. James Loney hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly and Blake drove in the other two with a double inside first base. Matt Kemp came all the way around from first, running through coach Larry Bowa's stop sign to score his major league-leading 33rd run.
In the fifth, Bowa emphatically waved Manny Ramirez around third on Kemp's double to the fence in right-center. But Keppinger took the throw from center fielder Michael Bourn and made a perfect relay to the plate for the easy out on Ramirez. The assist was Bourn's seventh, four shy of his career-high total from last season.
The Dodgers made it 4-1 in the fourth when DeWitt tripled off the glove of right fielder Hunter Pence and scored on Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly. The Astros got the run back in the fifth on Pedro Feliz's RBI single.
DeWitt drove in the final two runs with another triple past Pence's dive. It made him the first Dodger with two triples in a game since Rafael Furcal on June 13, 2007.
- Ethier, wearing a small splint on the top knuckle of his injured finger, worked out with his teammates but did not take any swings or catch any thrown balls. He was later examined by team physician Neal ElAttrache.
- Astros utility INF Geoff Blum made his 13th start of the season and his first at SS in place of Tommy Manzella, who is in a 3 for 35 rut over his last 13 games. Rookie manager Brad Mills has used a major league-high 36 lineups through his first 38 games.
- Martin singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and tie his longest in the majors.
- Dodgers pitchers have a 1.75 ERA during their winning streak.