Manny's four hits propel Dodgers
Ramirez collects eight hits, five RBIs in first three LA games
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers expected Manny Ramirez to make an immediate impact after being traded to Los Angeles on Thursday, but nobody could have expected this.In a game Dodgers manager Joe Torre said his club needed to win, Ramirez put the team on his back by going 4-for-5 with a double, homer and three RBIs in Los Angeles' 9-3 win over first-place Arizona on Sunday. "It's nice to have that type of player," Torre said. "There aren't that many guys like that that come down the pipe [with] that ability that he has to hit." Ramirez missed a cycle by a triple in only his third game wearing Dodger Blue. He gave the Dodgers an early lead with an RBI single in the first and followed with an RBI double in the second and a solo homer in the fifth. He's hitting .615 with two homers and five RBIs in three games with the Dodgers after his first four-hit game of the year. "They gave me a lot of good pitches to hit," Ramirez said. "I drove it, that was it. I want to keep it going." Ramirez's homer was the 512th of his career, tying him with Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 20th on the all-time list. That's quite a power infusion for a team whose home run leader is Matt Kemp, who drilled his 13th of the season on Sunday. "Having a guy that can leave the yard at any moment definitely I'm sure is in the mind of the opposing team," catcher Russell Martin said. "We haven't had this in a long time. The last guy that had a bunch of homers was [Adrian] Beltre [in 2004]. Manny's a great hitter, just his presence alone and his ability to drive runs in is going to help us for sure." About the only thing Ramirez did wrong at the plate on Sunday was that he told Martin he would hit his homer to the opposite field, but instead he pulled it to left. Martin plans to give him a hard time about that, but Torre couldn't care less based on the effect Ramirez is having on the rest of the Dodgers. Los Angeles tied a season high with 16 hits on Sunday and scored the most runs it has all homestand. The team took an early lead and kept adding on, scoring in five of the eight innings it went to the dish. "He certainly changes the personality of our lineup, and so far he's having a good time," Torre said. Added Kemp, "When pitchers make mistakes you have to make them pay for it, and I guess that's what we're doing right now." Kemp has been doing that quite a bit lately, and he did not let the end of his 19-game hitting streak on Saturday affect him Sunday afternoon. He continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-5 day with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs. "Matty is progressively getting better," Torre said. "He's thinking up there, he's got a clear picture of what he wants to do, and he's been pretty patient staying within himself." Torre was not very patient with starter Jason Johnson, pulling him after he yielded three runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Johnson seemed to right himself with scoreless frames in the third and fourth after a two-run second, but Torre yanked him after he followed up a Stephen Drew homer with a walk with one out in the fifth. Johnson, who said he did not feel right all day, would have liked to finish the fifth to qualify for the victory. "Today it looked like he was really working hard and not getting as good of results," Torre said. "I thought after he gave up the two runs the next two innings were good, but then the walk after the home run we felt especially with the off-day tomorrow we needed this game, we're going to try to use as many people as we needed to." The bullpen ended up shutting out the D-backs over the final 4 2/3 innings, including 1 2/3 scoreless frames from Cory Wade (2-1) to pick up the victory. Martin said it was crucial the Dodgers split the series after losing the first two to first-place Arizona, which is exactly what the team did. Before the weekend, the Dodgers had either been tied or within one game of first place in the National League West every day but one since the end of play on July 4. After dropping three back after Friday, the Dodgers are in the same position they were both at the start of the series and at the start of their homestand. Los Angeles and Arizona have both gone 7-3 in their past 10 games, with the teams winning and losing on the same day the six games before this series. "It was absolutely huge considering when you play at home and you're playing that team that's right ahead of you and then to be able to come back and jump back into the same situation, even though when they're coming in here we have visions of something better than that," Torre said. "When you lose the first two it's the best we could have done." Although both the Dodgers and D-backs have won with pitching this year, Los Angeles may have delivered somewhat of a blow by showing Arizona firsthand the kind of havoc Ramirez can wreak in this hotly contested division race. "It's a momentum thing, and I think we've got the momentum right now," Kemp said. "We played two good games, we're just getting on a roll."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.