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07/09/09 6:33 PM ET

Manny back at it after playing full game

Dodgers star in lineup vs. Mets following complete game

NEW YORK -- Manny Ramirez reached the dugout for batting practice, took one look at the center-field giant replica of the fruit that symbolizes this city and proclaimed his mission for Thursday night.

"I'm going apple," Ramirez said.

The Dodgers were just happy to see him in the lineup for the series finale against the Mets after he played all nine innings Wednesday and homered in his last at-bat.

It was the first complete game Ramirez had delivered since returning from suspension last week and only three days after being limited to a pinch-hitting appearance Sunday because his legs were sore.

"I didn't talk to him, but he felt going into last night's game he would be able to get some length," manager Joe Torre said. "I don't think he's all the way there and a couple games in a row like that will take a toll. I may have to give him a blow over the next four games."

Maybe so, but Ramirez's approach at the plate was improved Wednesday night. He flied out to center field his first three times, pulled a bouncer to third base, then went the other way for a home run into the first row of the right-field seats an estimated 345 feet away.

"That home run to right field stayed in the air a long time," said Torre. "That lets me know his rhythm is coming back."

That came one night after Ramirez was ejected for tossing equipment after being called out on strikes twice. Since returning, he is 4-for-16 with two homers and five RBIs.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.