Blake, Ramirez lead Dodgers over Phillies
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Dodgers kept Ryan Howard in check with a three-man shift on the right side of the infield. That’s the only reason they were able to hold off the Philadelphia Phillies.
Both of Howard’s RBIs came on groundouts in the hole to second baseman Jeff Kent. The game ended when the Phillies’ slugger grounded out again against Jonathan Broxton with two on—this time to Pablo Ozuna, a late-inning defensive replacement for Kent.
“I didn’t even know we were going to do it,” Lowe said about the shift. “I never even thought about it. The coaches came to me before the game and said, `What do you think about a shift?’ I said, `I’ll leave it up to you guys. You know the spray charts better than I do.’ And it helped me twice.”
Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, reached 100 RBIs for the third consecutive season and tied Houston’s injured Carlos Lee for the league lead. Howard was the first major leaguer in 60 years to lead his league in homers and RBIs at the All-Star break and not make the All-Star team.
“He’s a great hitter and he can drive in runs—and he’s still a pup, too,” Kent said. “But if he’s going to roll it over to the right side, sure, you play as many guys over there as you can. But they do such a great job of manufacturing runs, you can hit .240 and still drive in 100. That’s telling you that their team is operating well.”
Howard is batting .347 since April 29 with runners in scoring position, although he was 0-for-4 in those situations Monday.
James Loney had three RBIs for the Dodgers, who rebounded from back-to-back losses at San Francisco that were both decided in the ninth inning. The win trimmed Arizona’s lead in the NL West to one game. Kent and Matt Kemp each had three hits.
Lowe (9-10) also bounced back from one of the worst outings of his career. The right-hander held the Phillies to three runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings, after allowing eight runs and 13 hits over 3 1-3 innings in a 9-6 loss at St. Louis last Wednesday.
Broxton entered with a 7-4 lead in the eighth. He earned his third four-out save and eighth altogether since taking over as closer for injured Takashi Saito.
“We were coming off a couple of heartbreakers ourselves, so I think guys were a little determined to finish this one,” Kent said.
“The 27th out is always the toughest to get,” Howard said. “Utley gave him a great battle, but I swung horrible. Both pitches were sliders, and I just didn’t get good wood on it. I was swinging over balls and grounding out all night.”
Before the inning started, Broxton had to wait a few minutes for a tardy Ramirez to take his place in left field. Dodgers manager Joe Torre explained that there was a miscommunication between himself and the club’s newest acquisition.
After Ramirez was forced at the plate, Torre pointed to him from a distance as a way of congratulating the slugger for his eighth-inning single. But Ramirez thought that meant he was done for the night. He explained later that he went up the tunnel to the bathroom.
“When he came out, his jersey was half undone,” Kent said with a smirk. “So if he was going to the bathroom, he takes his jersey off to do it.”
But, Manny being Manny, he just had fun with it when reporters approached him.
“I just went to the bathroom,” he said with a chuckle. “All the guys said, `Hey, we play nine in here.”’
The victory was Torre’s 2,126th in the regular season, tying Joe McCarthy for seventh place on the career list. Torre managed the New York Yankees to six pennants and four World Series titles in 12 years. McCarthy guided the Yankees to eight pennants and seven world championships in 16 years.
Kyle Kendrick (10-6) gave up seven runs, nine hits and three walks in 3 1-3 innings without striking out anyone.
“Kendrick had a tough inning and it got him in trouble,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “But that’s a tough lineup now with Ramirez and Blake, and Manny’s always tough with the bases loaded.”
Dodgers INF Nomar Garciaparra is expected to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday. He has been sidelined since July 28 with a left knee strain. CF Andruw Jones might replace Garciaparra on the DL because of soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. … RHP Rudy Seanez will have three more minor league rehab outings this week and could rejoin Philadelphia’s bullpen in San Diego barring any setbacks.