Manny sparks Dodgers against D-backs
LA homers thrice as NL West lead stays at 3 1/2 games
PHOENIX -- Manny Ramirez didn't mind talking about his third-inning ejection on Monday, but he cut off questioning about his second-inning home run."I don't want to talk about that," he said. "I do that all the time." What a comedian, that guy. Conventional wisdom ranks Ramirez's power outage since returning from a 50-game drug suspension as the prime suspect for the team's recent offensive struggles. So the fact that Ramirez's homer was followed in back-to-back fashion by James Loney, triggering a 7-2 win over the D-backs, further fueled the theory that as Manny goes, so go the Dodgers. After a lackluster series against the Padres, the Dodgers handed Arizona its fifth consecutive loss with a well-played game in which Ramirez's rapid ejection by plate umpire Doug Eddings was overcome by new arrivals Ronnie Belliard (who homered, doubled and singled) and starting pitcher Vicente Padilla (two runs allowed in six innings), who is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts since being dumped by Texas and acquired for minimum wage by the Dodgers. "Padilla was terrific and, obviously, it was an important game for us," said manager Joe Torre. "Padilla gave us six strong innings, and Belliard really gave us a shot in the arm." Juan Pierre, who took over for Ramirez, played enough to go 2-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases, a run scored and one knocked in. Despite the lopsided final score, George Sherrill turned it into a save situation by allowing a pair of baserunners with two outs in the eighth, bringing on Jonathan Broxton, who also allowed a pair of runners in the ninth before locking down his 33rd save. Eddings became quite the focal point of the game. One inning after tossing Ramirez for tossing his helmet, he issued warnings when Arizona righty Max Scherzer drilled Russell Martin in the back with a pitch two batters after Belliard's home run. By issuing warnings, Eddings determined that Scherzer's pitch was intentional and it would have meant an automatic ejection if Padilla retaliated, something he's been known to do in the past. Martin's initial reaction also was that Scherzer intended to hit him, as he exchanged words with Scherzer as he walked to first base and again at the end of the inning. "With the pitcher on deck, I thought at the time, I felt it might be done on purpose," said Martin, who has been hit a career-high 10 times this year. "His body language after told me he wasn't. But it still hurt. After it was over, it was over." "He went right at it and shut off any sort of momentum toward an ugly game, and that's his prerogative," said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch. "There's just no reason for us to throw at somebody. It was a situation that didn't make sense. There was no intent, no malice, no reason for it to escalate." Scherzer said it was unintentional and added, "I didn't see any reason for a warning." Padilla just kept to his task, facing the minimum hitters through four innings. He allowed a two-run homer in the fifth to Chris Young, who slugged three homers Sunday in Colorado. "He was using his sinker and didn't make many mistakes with it," said Martin. "He was tremendous. He had great stuff." Belliard, getting starting time at third base with the hamstring injury to Casey Blake, is 10-for-27 (.370) with two homers and six RBIs. He's made fast friends with the Dodgers' large group of Latin ballplayers. "They welcome me good," he said. "I really like being here, with Manny and [Rafael] Furcal and Padilla, and I played with a couple other guys in the Dominican." Belliard said he's better equipped for the adjustment necessary with a midseason trade, compared to 2006, when he struggled after Cleveland dealt him to the Cardinals. "This is different. I put a lot of pressure on myself then because I was never traded before," he said. "Here, it's easier. I feel like I raised the level of my baseball." Loney's bat appears to be awakening. He is 9-for-25 (.360) in his last seven games, and he has 10 home runs on the season, all on the road. "We may have to put the gray [road] uniform on him at home, even if he wears it underneath," said Torre. "I don't know why that is, it's something weird."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.