Shutting down Manny Ramirez(notes) has helped give the Florida Marlins a chance to take a road series against the best team in the majors, but the Los Angeles Dodgers continue to prove their strength goes beyond their controversial slugger.
The Marlins will go for a third straight series victory at Dodger Stadium in Sunday’s decisive finale, looking to prevent the Dodgers from completing another successful homestand.
Florida has held Ramirez to one single in eight at-bats in this series, and he was 0 for 3 in Los Angeles’ 6-3 loss Friday.
One night later, though, the Dodgers (62-35) won 4-3 despite Ramirez’s 1-for-5 performance, which included a strikeout with a man in scoring position in the ninth inning of a tie game. Andre Ethier(notes) followed with a walk, and Casey Blake’s(notes) bases-loaded bloop single ended the game.
“I told (Blake) when he came off the field that he just bought himself the day off (Sunday),” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
It’s safe to say Ethier will be playing. He is 13 for 22 (.591) with two home runs and five RBIs in the last seven games, with the Dodgers winning six. In this series, he’s 6 for 7 with three doubles, and he reached base five times Saturday.
Los Angeles, 34-16 at Dodger Stadium and nine games up on second-place Colorado in the NL West, can close a 10-game homestand at 7-3 with a win Sunday.
Still, Florida (50-48) has a chance to finish its road trip at 5-1 with a victory as it tries to remain within striking distance in the NL wild card race. The Marlins have won seven of their last 10 in Los Angeles, including three of four last year.
Florida’s Chris Volstad(notes) (7-9, 4.34 ERA) goes to the mound looking to continue his strong pitching on the road, where he’s 4-3 with a 3.53 ERA. He has allowed one run in 16 innings in his last two road starts - both victories, including a 3-2 win at San Diego on Tuesday.
“I thought he got stronger as the game went on,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “… He made an adjustment and started throwing his curveball over for strikes and his sinker got better, which is a good sign from a young pitcher, making an adjustment in the course of game.”
The 22-year-old right-hander turned in a stellar outing in his previous appearance at Dodger Stadium, coming within one out of a shutout before allowing a run in the ninth inning of a 3-1 win July 11, 2008.
He gave up four runs in six innings of a home loss to Los Angeles on May 15.
This time, he’ll face Jason Schmidt(notes), the veteran who had been out of the majors for more than two years before Monday. Coming off shoulder surgery, Schmidt (1-0, 5.40) earned a victory in his return, allowing three runs in five innings of a 7-5 win over Cincinnati.
Schmidt is trying to contribute to a Los Angeles staff that already leads the majors with a 3.57 ERA.
“He still has a ways to go,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I mean, he still has deception and he was effectively wild tonight. He wasn’t the Jason Schmidt I knew before. But if he continues to come back, perhaps he can be there.”
Florida probably doesn’t have fond memories of the old Schmidt, who is 8-0 in 17 appearances against the Marlins despite a 4.39 ERA. The last time he faced them, on June 6, 2006, while with San Francisco, Schmidt struck out a career-high 16 in a complete-game 2-1 win.