© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
09/21/08 3:40 AM ET
Manny belts two to sink wild Giants
Dodgers draw 11 free passes, shrink magic number to five
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Saturday night's Dodgers-Giants game featured 43 players, 22 runners left on base, 12 pitching changes and 15 walks, four with the bases loaded, in a not-so-brisk four hours and three minutes. A thing of beauty it was not, but when Manny Ramirez's two homers and five RBIs left the Dodgers 10-7 victors, all that mattered to Los Angeles was reducing its magic number to win the National League West to five. "I'm glad it turned out a good one," said manager Joe Torre. The Dodgers likely would not be leading their division by 3 1/2 games with just seven games remaining without Ramirez, who has driven in at least four runs three times in the last two weeks, all victories. After falling behind, 2-0, Ramirez put the Dodgers back on top with a three-run homer in the third, his 15th as a Dodger to join Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, David Justice and Carlos Beltran as the only players to hit 15 homers with two teams in the same season. Ramirez later added a two-run shot in the eighth. "Manny certainly gave us a lift with the three-run homer," Torre said. "It seems to me that we needed a little jump-start somewhere along the line, and he certainly did it for us tonight. He's a special player, there's no question. They say that the great players are able to slow the game down for themselves. I'm just glad he's on my side." Added Matt Kemp, who slugged his first homer since Aug. 30 three batters after Ramirez in the third, "Nothing he does surprises anybody. He's a man-child. He helps us out a lot. I don't know where we'd be without him." After Saturday's 3-for-4 performance, Ramirez is now hitting .404 with 16 homers, 13 doubles and 49 RBIs in just 47 games since being traded to Los Angeles. In that time he leads the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.760) and ranks among the leaders in homers. "I got a lot of good pitches to hit, and I drove it good," said Ramirez, who took curtain calls after each long ball. "I'm just happy to be here and trying to go to the playoffs with this team. It's been an unbelievable ride." The Giants ran up a high pitch count on Hiroki Kuroda, who yielded just three runs on eight hits but could only make it through four-plus innings after throwing 93 pitches. Torre pulled Kuroda after he allowed a double to Bengie Molina leading off the fifth. Kuroda looked nothing like the hurler who needed just 83 pitches to breeze through seven shutout innings on Monday in Pittsburgh, only stopping because the Dodgers wanted to get Takashi Saito and Brad Penny some work in the blowout. Kuroda labored throughout this contest and worked his way out of jams with runners in scoring position in every inning. Chan Ho Park proved ineffective after relieving Kuroda in the fifth with the Dodgers ahead, 5-2, unable to retire any of the three batters he faced. Torre then brought on Joe Beimel after Park walked in a run to keep the bases loaded with no outs, and after uncorking a wild pitch to bring in a one, Beimel allowed one more run to score, tying the game at 5. Beimel threw another inning of scoreless relief and was followed by Saito, who picked up his first win since May 25, Cory Wade and Jonathan Broxton, with the bullpen stopping the bleeding until Broxton yielded a pair of unearned runs in the ninth. "It was a tough game, especially when your starting pitcher struggles, and you start having to go to the bullpen that early," said Torre. "And, to me, Joe Beimel sort of restored sanity in the game. He came in and pitched a couple innings and got people out, and then it became just a baseball game." In a contest in which the Dodgers drew 11 walks for the second time in three games, no inning did that patience prove more important than a two-run seventh aided by four walks sandwiched around a James Loney single in what was a 5-5 game entering the frame. Nomar Garciaparra's walk loaded the bases before Angel Berroa and pinch-hitter Delwyn Young worked RBI walks to put the Dodgers on top for good. "We still do that from time to time. Everybody goes up there and tries to do it themselves, but that inning with the walks was huge for us," Torre said. "Nomar, you knew they were going to pitch careful to him, and then for Berroa to get the walk and I thought D.Y. had a great at-bat."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.