On Tuesday night, Ethier turned out to be the one who provided his manager with another milestone victory.
The victory was Torre’s 2,127th in the regular season, breaking a tie with 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.
“I’ve never gotten caught up in stuff like this because I figure the time to do this is when I’m not doing this anymore,” Torre said. “But the thing that impresses me—aside from the overall number of wins—is that when you start getting mentioned in the same breath as McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Ralph Houk, Miller Huggins and guys like that, then it becomes something that gets your attention. Joe McCarthy has a pretty good track record, so this win certainly will be a memorable one for more reasons than one.”
Casey Blake had two RBIs for Los Angeles, including a sacrifice fly that tied it in the eighth.
Philadelphia reliever J.C. Romero (4-4) began the ninth by hitting Russell Martin with a pitch. Martin went to second on James Loney’s groundout to first, then scored with a slide when Ethier lined a 1-2 pitch to left field.
Ethier was the Dodgers’ opening-day left fielder and played both corner outfield positions on a more regular basis before the team acquired Ramirez from Boston at the July 31 trade deadline. Since then, Ethier has started only five of 11 games and is 7-for-24 during that stretch.
“It’s satisfying from the standpoint that we’ve got the right components to go far this season and keep going,” said Ethier, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh. “Guys like Manny have that experience and have been in situations in tough games. So it’s something you have to earn.
“I can’t sit back and complain and say I should be in there. But when they ask you to do something, whether it be start that day or come off the bench and play defense or get a key hit, it’s a good feeling.”
Hong-Chih Kuo (4-2) pitched two hitless innings for the win.
“The last few weeks, this ballclub has really been playing hard,” Torre said. “And then the addition of Manny has certainly picked up the personality of this club. We feel this is an important week for us.”
The Dodgers tied it 3-all in the eighth against reliever Chad Durbin, who hit Ramirez just above the left elbow with a pitch to load the bases with none out. Blake followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Kemp, but Nomar Garciaparra grounded into an inning-ending double play in his first game off the disabled list.
Trailing 3-1, the Dodgers opened the sixth with singles by Juan Pierre and Kemp against left-hander Cole Hamels. One out later, Ramirez singled to center on a 3-2 pitch to score Pierre, after getting spun around on back-to-back fastballs by a pitcher who has not hit a batter all season.
“Manny’s very smart. He’s intelligent—especially when it comes to hitting a baseball. And he goes to school on the pitchers, too. He knows exactly what they’ve got and how they’re going to pitch him,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who spent seven seasons coaching and managing Ramirez in Cleveland.
Dodgers rookie Clayton Kershaw got a no-decision after allowing three runs and six hits over six innings against. The 20-year-old left-hander had eight strikeouts, his highest total in 13 big league starts.
Hamels had an RBI single for Philadelphia. Left fielder Pat Burrell made his first error since Sept. 22 last year, snapping a 122-game streak without one.
Phillies CF Shane Victorino left after six innings because of lower back stiffness. … Tuesday was the first day Dodger Stadium concession stands were selling blue “MANNYWOOD” T-shirts, which had Ramirez’s No. 99 on it next to a silhouette of his head, complete with dreadlocks and reflecting sunglasses — no facial features. The Dodger caps with the facsimile dreadlocks are scheduled to arrive on Thursday.