Manny’s perfect night paces Dodgers
MILWAUKEE — If his start in left field on Wednesday turns out to be his last in a Dodgers uniform, Manny Ramirez certainly went out on a high note in a 5-4 win over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Before the club’s second game against the Brewers, the buzz surrounding the Dodgers involved the club having reportedly placed Ramirez on the waiver wire. In his third game back from the disabled list, Ramirez showed why he’s generated so much interest.
With a double into the right-field corner in the third inning, Ramirez snapped an 0-for-7 streak at the plate since returning from the DL.
“Manny had a real good night,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. “When he gets his timing, that’s where he starts, hitting the other way. Then he had the big base hit, the RBI base hit. That was huge for us too.
“It’s all about timing with him. I’m not really concerned about home run production. It’s just production period. Hopefully this will make him feel pretty good about himself.”
Ramirez certainly seemed to have figured out his struggles, putting together an impressive night as he alternated walks and doubles. Ramirez finished 2-for-2 with two walks, two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.
Most importantly, Ramirez’s two-out double in the sixth drove in second baseman Ryan Theriot for what proved to be the deciding run.
With a scheduled day off Thursday for Ramirez as the Dodgers play a day game after a night game, Wednesday’s performance may have come in Ramirez’s final start with the Dodgers. If Ramirez was indeed put on waivers Wednesday, and if he is claimed by another club, he could be traded as soon as Friday and no later than Tuesday.
As long as he’s still with the team, the Dodgers hope Ramirez’s bat can help them get back in the National League Wild Card race.
“Any time Manny’s in the lineup, you know the other team’s thinking about that’s one of the guys they don’t want to beat them,” the Dodgers’ James Loney said. “It definitely puts a force in our lineup.”
Ramirez was stranded after a first-inning walk and thrown out at the plate attempting to score from second after his third-inning double, ending the frame. In the fifth, he walked again with one out, and came around to score on a Loney single.
While Ramirez led the offense, right-handed starter Hiroki Kuroda — who also was reported Wednesday as having been placed on waivers — delivered a strong performance for his first win since July 22.
Kuroda, who admitted he didn’t have his best stuff, went seven innings for the fourth straight start, giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out six as he did not walk a batter.
“In these six games, there’s been many games where I’ve pitched really well, but I couldn’t get the win,” Kuroda said. “It’s a bit frustrating at times, but you’ve got to keep pitching tough and the results will come.”
After a giving up a big three-run inning to the Brewers in the fourth, Kuroda and the Dodgers’ bullpen combined to limit Milwaukee to just two baserunners the rest of the way.
While Kuroda went deep into the ballgame, the late innings continued to be an adventure for the Dodgers as Torre used four different relievers for the final two frames.
After Jonathan Broxton shut down the Brewers in order in the eighth, Torre turned to a three-man closer unit for the ninth, matching up Ronald Belisario, George Sherrill and Octavio Dotel for one batter each against Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee.
“Last night, the lefty [Hong-Chih Kuo] was a closer. Sherrill is a closer. Broxton is a closer. Dotel is a closer,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “Belisario, he probably has the best stuff out of all of them. So, if you don’t have the lead after six innings, you’re in trouble.”
Former Dodgers lefty Randy Wolf was roughed up in his first start against his former team, giving up four runs on seven hits over just five innings of work. Wolf (10-10) also walked three batters and recorded four strikeouts.
Andre Ethier put the Dodgers on the board first in the third inning with a solo home run, his 20th of the season. A three-run fifth — highlighted by Theriot and Casey Blake doubles — and a final run in the fifth gave the Dodgers their second straight win.
With the Giants having lost to the Reds in extra innings Wednesday afternoon, the Dodgers moved to within 5 1/2 games of the Giants and Phillies, who are tied for the lead in the National League Wild Card race. Having won the first two games in Milwaukee, the Dodgers secured at least a series victory over the Brewers and will look for the sweep on Thursday.
The series win is the Dodgers’ first on the road since taking two of three from the D-backs on July 2-4.
“My goal for this team right now is to get ourselves five or six in a row under our belt, so we can know when we go to the ballpark that we expect to win,” Torre said. “We haven’t been able to string it together.
“Hopefully winning two close games here gives us the confidence to win another one tomorrow.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.