A return to Miami seems to be just what Los Angeles' Hanley Ramirez needed to find his stroke.
Ramirez looks to build on one of his best games in a Dodgers uniform and add to the misery of former teammate Ricky Nolasco on Saturday night at Marlins Park.
Acquired from Miami (51-62) on July 25, Ramirez got off to a slow start with Los Angeles (61-52), batting .226 with 12 RBIs in 14 games. The three-time All-Star arrived in Miami, where he had played since 2006, mired in a 5-for-32 slump (.156), but he quickly broke out of it by going 3 for 5 in Friday's 5-2 win. He drove in two runs and scored one for the Dodgers, who opened a 10-game road trip with their fourth straight victory away from Chavez Ravine.
"We don't expect anything less from him,'' said winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw. "He's one of the most talented guys I've ever played with tools-wise. He's starting to get locked in, and that's a good thing for us.''
Ramirez's former teammate Jose Reyes didn't play in the opener (sore right hand) one day after his career-best 26-game hitting streak ended. He expects to be back in the lineup Saturday to face Joe Blanton (8-9, 4.52 ERA), against whom he is batting .194 in 31 at-bats.
Blanton made his Dodgers debut Sunday against the Chicago Cubs two days after being acquired from Philadelphia. The nine-year veteran right-hander allowed two runs, five hits and tied a season high with three walks in six innings of a 7-6 win, though didn't get a decision.
"He's a quality starter and he'll add a little depth to our rotation,'' Andre Ethier said
Blanton faced the Marlins three times with the Phillies, going 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA. He took the loss in his first outing at Marlins Ballpark on July 1 after winning all four of his starts at the club's old stadium.
While Reyes has struggled mightily against Blanton, Carlos Lee has had no trouble hitting him. Lee, whose season-best 14-game hitting streak ended Friday, has singled in all three of his at-bats against Blanton this year, and is 9 for 18 with three doubles lifetime.
Nolasco (8-11, 4.95) is mired in the worst consecutive-start losing streak of his career, and facing the Dodgers might not be the answer.
After going 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA in his final three starts before the All-Star break, Nolasco has a 7.16 ERA in losing his five starts since. Against Washington on Sunday, the right-hander gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in six innings of a 4-1 final.
"Ricky threw the ball better than he was the last couple of outings," Ozzie Guillen told the Marlins' official website.
This will be Nolasco's first start against the Dodgers since May 29, 2011, when he was knocked around for eight runs and a career-worst 15 hits in an 8-0 loss. That dropped him to 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA in four career starts versus Los Angeles.
He'll have to be careful pitching to Ethier and Matt Kemp. Ethier is 6 for 10 with a double and three walks lifetime against Nolasco, while Kemp is batting .447 with three homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in his last 12 games.