He's baaack! Manny poised to return
Los Angeles (50-29) at San Diego (34-42), 7:05 p.m. PT
LOS ANGELES -- He's baaaack!
Manny Ramirez returns to the Dodgers' lineup Friday against the Padres after serving a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's Drug Policy.
He'll be a welcome sight, as the Dodgers' offense has struggled recently. In their just-concluded series against the Rockies, the Dodgers won two games but scored just five runs over the three-game set. In their past five games, Los Angeles has scored just eight runs.
The Dodgers hope that anemic run production will improve when Ramirez slides into the No. 3 spot in the order.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre expects it will take some time before Ramirez, who has played in four Minor League games in the past 10 days, is back in game shape.
"It's going to be like Spring Training," Torre said. "You can go to the gym and do what you need to do, but when you play, you use muscles you're not used to. So I think he'll just have to get into the best shape by playing."
But Torre is hopeful that Ramirez will be able to inject some life into the Dodgers' offense.
"Hopefully, Manny will give us a more consistent offense," Torre said. "We've been lucky to win a lot of close games. We've made the most out of the runs we've scored. But I think the presence he brings to the lineup is a security blanket for the rest of the guys."
With a sellout crowd on hand, the Dodgers will be facing a very hot pitcher. The Padres' Chad Gaudin was brilliant Sunday against the Rangers, allowing one hit over eight shutout innings.
Hiroki Kuroda, who struggled in his last start against the Mariners, will toe the rubber for the Dodgers. Kuroda is 3-1 with a 4.78 ERA in five career starts against the Padres.
LAD: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (2-4, 3.77 ERA)
In his last start, Kuroda struggled early against the Mariners, allowing four runs in the first three innings, but he settled down after that. The right-hander's control wasn't the issue, as he didn't allow a walk and struck out five, but he was simply roughed up for eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Gaudin needed only 101 pitches to get through his outing Sunday, and he retired the side five times. In eight games -- four starts -- spanning 26 2/3 innings at PETCO Park, Gaudin has posted a 2-2 record with a 3.38 ERA. Against the Dodgers in his career, Gaudin is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA over 6 2/3 innings. Tidbits
The Dodgers are now 10-2 against the Rockies this season. ... With Wednesday's win, Los Angeles avoided losing its third consecutive series for the first time since August 2008. ... The Dodgers are the first team in the Majors to reach 50 wins. ... Los Angeles is 17-8 in one-run games this year. Tickets
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Saturday: Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 3-3, 3.61) at Padres (Josh Geer, 1-3, 5.68), 1:10 p.m. PT
Sunday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 9-4, 3.12) at Padres (Josh Banks, 1-0, 3.38), 1:05 p.m. PT
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.