08/12/08 2:59 AM ET
Dodgers ride six-run inning to win
Blake homers to back rebound effort from starter Lowe
By Mike Scarr / MLB.com
The bases were loaded in a scoreless game and the Dodger Stadium crowd rose to its feet and roared its approval.
The slugger, emancipated from Boston in a deadline deal, was acquired for this specific purpose -- to deliver the big blow -- and with his signature dreadlocks flowing out the back of his helmet and tickling his jersey No. 99, despite entreaties to give them a snip or two, he did not disappoint.
Ramirez stroked a two-run double in the third inning that fell short of the wall in left-center only because of furious topspin that kept the ball inside the park but nonetheless propelled the Dodgers to an 8-6 victory over the Phillies on Monday night to open the four-game series.
"I hear it," Ramirez said of the crowd. "But I was just trying to make something happen. That is what baseball is all about."
Ramirez also provided a pause at the start of the ninth inning as he was the last to take the field, prompting home plate umpire Jeff Nelson to embark on a brief search before the left fielder emerged from the dugout and trotted out to his position.
Joe Torre, who tied Joe McCarthy for seventh on the all-time managerial wins list with his 2,126th victory, had wanted to acknowledge Ramirez, who singled and was forced out at the plate in the eighth.
But he couldn't get close enough and waved to him as if to say: "I'll catch you later." Ramirez thought he was getting the rest of the night off and went to the clubhouse, where players found him in time to make it onto the field for the ninth.
Torre said he spoke to him afterward.
Ramirez laughed and said the message from his manager was: "You play nine here."
And if that weren't enough, Jonathan Broxton provided a tense moment in the ninth by loading the bases.
The right-handed closer allowed a two-run single to Chase Utley that pulled the Phillies within two and brought Ryan Howard to the plate as the go-ahead run, but Broxton retired the defending home run champ with a ground ball to earn his eighth save.
"He's still learning," Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said. "That is a tough situation against a tough lineup."
It all provided back story, though, to Ramirez, who was the first to cash in as nine men came to the plate in the Dodgers' third with James Loney singling in a pair of runs and Casey Blake drilling a two-run shot to dead center in a six-run frame.
Kent added a run-scoring single in the fourth and the offensive binge made a winner of Derek Lowe, who came into the game on the heels of two straight losses, the most recent of which included eight runs allowed in his shortest outing of the season.
But on Monday, Lowe (9-10) gave up three runs on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts to pick up the win and improve to 4-1 in his career against the Phillies.
There was plenty of credit to go around, but it was Ramirez that set the tone.
Torre mentioned in his pregame chat with reporters there would be some resolution this week with his superstar's hair but would not elaborate how much of baseball's most famous hairstyle would be trimmed.
That day was not Monday.
Ramirez struck his familiar pose, locks, baggy pants and all, and after hitting a shallow flare to second base in his first at-bat, he hammered a 1-1 fastball from Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick in the third, and the runs simply flowed.
The Dodgers, who improved to 5-5 with Ramirez, returned to the .500 mark with the victory and pulled within a game of the idle Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.
"When he comes up [the crowd] senses the situation and they want him to get a hit," Torre said. "Manny, as he has so many times since he's been with us, he came through."
Ramirez is hitting .475 with four homers and 13 RBIs since joining the Dodgers on Aug. 1. The Manny effect has permeated the entire lineup, too, and specifically helped Kent.
The Dodgers' second baseman is hitting .378 in August but is 9-for-18 since moving up to the three-hole in front of Ramirez. Kent had three hits with an RBI on Monday.
"We feed off Manny, and Jeff seems to be reaping the rewards of hitting in front of him," Torre said. "He's getting some pitches to hit. His experience and his ability lets him know what to do in that situation."
Matt Kemp started the six-run third with a hard smash that overwhelmed shortstop Jimmy Rollins for a hit. Andre Ethier walked and Kemp, who broke for second on a stolen-base attempt, advanced to third on a throwing error by Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Kendrick then hit Kent with a pitch and Ramirez followed with his double for a 2-0 lead. Loney drove in two and Russell Martin singled but Loney was out at the plate on a strong throw from Jayson Werth. Blake followed with his third home run with the Dodgers.
After the Phillies put a run up in the fourth, Kemp singled and scored on Kent's base hit in the bottom half of the inning as the Dodgers built a 7-1 lead.
Howard drove in his second run of the night on a ground ball that scored Rollins in the sixth and the Phillies added two more runs in the seventh as Werth doubled and scored on a pinch-hit single by Geoff Jenkins. Rollins then hit a drive to right that Ethier misplayed into a two-out, RBI triple.
It was a long night all around.
"I want to get some sleep," Ramirez joked afterward.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.