The Diamondbacks seek to pad that lead and extend their winning streak to five games Saturday when they continue their four-game set against Ramirez and the second-place Dodgers.
Los Angeles (54-55) debuted its new slugger Friday after Ramirez was acquired in a three-team deal with Boston and Pittsburgh a day earlier. The 12-time AL All-Star started in his customary spot in left field, drew a huge ovation his first time up at the plate and singled twice in four at-bats in his first NL game.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, his final at-bat will be the lasting memory of his first game with Los Angeles. After Russell Martin’s leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth off Diamondbacks closer Brandon Lyon, Ramirez grounded into a double play and Jeff Kent followed with a pop-up as Arizona (57-52) completed a second straight 2-1 victory in this series.
“I think I was trying to do too much,” Ramirez said. “I was just trying to see the ball and hit it. He made a good pitch and got me out, but tomorrow’s another day.”
The Diamondbacks moved three games ahead of the Dodgers and ensured they would leave town in first place. They improved to 7-3 against Los Angeles this season, and all five meetings between the clubs since the All-Star break have been decided by one run, with Arizona winning three times.
The Dodgers have been stifled in consecutive games by Arizona starters. Randy Johnson won his fifth straight start Friday with six innings for his 293rd career victory after Brandon Webb notched his major league-leading 15th win by pitching eight innings on Thursday.
“Everybody can be pitched to, but he’s one person that can change a lineup and make hitters around him better,” said Johnson about Ramirez. “If you make a bad pitch, which I have against him at times, he’s going to do what he does best. So to give him two singles today, including an infield hit, I’m pretty happy with that.”
Los Angeles right fielder Matt Kemp has gone just 1-for-4 in each game of this series, but he’s extended his career-high hitting streak to 19 games. Kemp is batting .359 (28-for-75) with 12 RBIs during his run.
Kemp and Los Angeles will try to get untracked against a pitcher who is not a regular member of Arizona’s rotation in Yusmeiro Petit (1-1, 2.55 ERA), who gets his third start of the season. Petit went 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his first two, earning a 9-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 22 in his last start by giving up one run in five innings.
Since that outing, Petit has made one appearance out of the bullpen, pitching two scoreless innings in Monday’s 8-5 loss at San Diego.
The right-hander will make his first career start against the Dodgers. He has a 3.00 ERA over four appearances against Los Angeles.
His counterpart, Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda (5-8, 4.40), is looking to snap out of an ugly four-start stretch in which he is 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA. The rookie was tagged for a season-high seven runs over 3 2-3 innings Monday in a 7-6 loss to San Francisco.
Kuroda was so upset that he ran wind sprints in the outfield after the game.
“I haven’t had a good outing and I’ve put a lot of burden on the rest of the team,” he told the Dodgers’ official Web site.
The right-hander also hasn’t fared well against the Diamondbacks this season, going 0-1 with an 8.22 ERA in two outings.