Ramirez, Blake HR for Dodgers in 4-2 win
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Dodgers got their first taste of Manny being Manny—from a positive standpoint.
Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer in his second game with his new club, and was mobbed by everyone in the dugout as though he did it in the ninth inning instead of the first. Casey Blake also hit his first homer as a National Leaguer, helping the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 on Saturday night.
“Manny’s unbelievable. But to see him have an impact as quick as he’s had it, it’s really amazing,” Blake said. “I don’t care who you are. You’ve still got to have some nervousness at the plate. And for him to be able to relax and hit that ball out, that was big for us. I’ve never really played with a player quite that caliber.”
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt presented him with the home run ball at the end of the game. It was recovered by an usher from a fan who was willing to trade it for 16 tickets to future games.
“I like that they’ve got my back and I’ve got their back,” said Ramirez, who alienated several of his former Boston teammates in the weeks preceding Thursday’s trade with his remarks off the field and his actions on it. “I’m just trying to fit in with these guys, relax and try to do my job. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
Ramirez, who helped lead the Red Sox to a pair of World Series titles, was 2-for-4 and scored twice after going 2-for-4 Friday night in his first game at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers lost that game after Ramirez grounded into a double play in the ninth inning.
The 12-time All-Star didn’t waste any time against Arizona’s Yusmeiro Petit. Ramirez drove the right-hander’s first pitch to him deep into the pavilion seats in left-center in the first inning for a 2-0 lead. It traveled an estimated 428 feet.
“You put him in any lineup and Manny is the difference-maker,” Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson said. “I don’t care what lineup he’s in. He’s going to be the difference.”
Juan Pierre opened the inning with a bunt single that hugged the third base line and was touching it when catcher Miguel Montero picked it up. Pierre was at third base by the time Ramirez recorded his 64th first-inning homer and 511th of his career, tying Mel Ott for 22nd place all-time and putting Ramirez one behind Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks.
“I don’t even think about that,” Ramirez said. “I just live day by day, pitch by pitch. Sometimes they’re going to get me, sometimes I’m going to get them. That’s part of the game. I’m not trying to hit home runs. I’m just want to make good contact.”
Hiroki Kuroda (6-8) allowed a run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings, struck out six and walked none after allowing 20 earned runs in 18 1-3 innings over his previous four starts. The right-hander won for the first time since beating Atlanta 9-0 with a one-hitter on July 7.
“After those bad outings I had, I felt really like I wasn’t contributing at all and felt like I was a burden on the team,” Kuroda said through a translator. “(Catcher) Russell Martin did a lot of research on Arizona’s lineup, and I just threw what he asked me to throw.”
Montero’s first home run of the season trimmed the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Kuroda retired 16 of his next 17 batters before second baseman Jeff Kent committed an error on Montero’s routine grounder.
Pinch-hitter Jamie D’Antona’s bloop single put runners at the corners, but Hong-Chih Kuo came in and struck out Stephen Drew before retiring Hudson on a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop. Kuo allowed an RBI single in the ninth by Alex Romero, but middle reliever Chan Ho Park got the final out for his second save in as many attempts.
Jonathan Broxton, who has been filling in for injured closer Takashi Saito, was rested by manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt because he had either pitched or warmed up during each of the previous nine games.
“I’m a little sore,” Broxton said. “It’s good that my bullpen picked me up. I can’t throw every day, so they’re going to have to pick it up on the days when I can’t.”
The Dodgers, whose five-game homerless drought coming in was their longest of the season, made it 3-0 in the second when Blake sent a 2-1 slider into the lower seats in the left field corner. The home run came in his 26th at-bat following the July 26 trade with Cleveland.
“It was big,” Blake said. “I mean, it’s not like it was really weighing on my mind. But you ask anybody, when you get that first home run out of the way, you start relaxing.”
Petit (1-2) allowed three runs and five hits over five innings in his 14th big league start and third this season. He is 4-5 with a 4.68 ERA in the starting role.
Kent singled home the Dodgers’ fourth run in the sixth against Leo Rosales.
The Dodgers, who dropped the first two games of this NL West showdown by 2-1 scores, trail the division-leading Diamondbacks by two games. Jason Johnson pitches the series finale on Sunday against Doug Davis.
Ramirez’s homer was his first against the Diamondbacks—leaving Colorado as the only team he has never hit one against in American League or interleague play. The Dodgers have six games left with the Rockies. … The Dodgers, celebrating their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles, honored some of their former players from the 1980s in a pregame ceremony. … Dodgers OF Matt Kemp was 0-for-4, ending his career-best hitting streak at 19 games.