Manny’s pinch-hit homer beats Giants
LOS ANGELES – All it took was one swing by Manny Ramirez against reliever Sergio Romo to waste Barry Zito’s prime performance.
Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter, lifting the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. It was his 548th home run, tying Mike Schmidt for 14th place on the career list.
“It’s unbelievable,” Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal said. “We didn’t get a run last night, and we went 17 innings without scoring any runs. And then for Manny to come in and hitting a big home run like that, that’s impressive. It’s a great win for us.”
The two-time defending NL West champion Dodgers were five outs away from being blanked for the second time in two days. On Saturday, two-time reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum held them to four singles over six innings in a 9-0 win.
Ramirez, who didn’t start for the second straight day because of tightness in his right calf, drove a 1-2 pitch from Romo (0-1) into the left field pavilion with one out after Zito walked pinch-hitter Garret Anderson to end his day.
“I didn’t get him out of the game. He got himself out by walking me,” said Anderson, who along with Ramirez has faced Zito more often than anyone on the Dodgers’ roster.
Ramon Troncoso (1-0) retired Juan Uribe on a fielder’s choice with the bases-loaded to end the eighth to earn the victory. Jonathan Broxton pitched a perfect ninth to convert his first save opportunity of the season.
Ramirez’s homer was his second as a pinch-hitter in 18 big league seasons. The 12-time All-Star’s other one came on July 22, 2009, against Cincinnati at Dodger Stadium, when he hit a grand slam on “Manny Ramirez bobblehead night.”
Clayton Kershaw gave up four hits and four walks over seven-plus innings and struck out nine, a year and three days after recording a career-high 13 strikeouts against the Giants at Dodger Stadium. The 22-year-old lefty was pulled after walking Eugenio Velez to open the eighth.
The Giants’ only run came in the seventh, when Uribe homered deep into the left field pavilion on a changeup after Kershaw shook off Russell Martin’s signal for a fastball.
Prior to Uribe’s first homer of the season, the Giants got only two runners as far as second base. But Kershaw fanned Pablo Sandoval for his 300th career strikeout to end the third inning, then fanned Uribe and Andres Torres to escape the fourth after giving up a leadoff double to Aubrey Huff.
The Giants have scored fewer than three runs in 58 of Zito’s 101 starts for them. The hard-luck left-hander had the second-lowest run support in the majors last season, a career-low (3.38).
“It’s definitely a tough loss for the team, letting the Dodgers take the series,” Zito said. “Kershaw was really good on the other side. His command was good and he had his good stuff working. I felt like I did a lot of things right today, and it’s something to build on for next time. I was being aggressive, attacking the zone and letting them get themselves out.”
Ramirez’s homer prevented Zito from winning his first three starts in a season for the first time in his 11-year career. But he still has a chance to win his first three decisions for the first time.
“I know one year he won 23 games. So if he didn’t start that year 3-0, it doesn’t really matter,” Anderson said. “When he was struggling the last two years, he was going through some changes and trying to figure out what type of pitcher he was. He wasn’t throwing 90-91 miles an hour anymore, but I don’t think his stuff ever suffered. He was just trying to find his way again.”
The Dodgers got Zito’s attention right away, as Rafael Furcal lined his first pitch right back at him and the ball struck him on the left side as he recoiled in self-defense. But Zito recovered in time to get the out at first.
NOTES: The Dodgers weren’t shut out last season until their 51st game. … Sunday marked the 52nd anniversary of the Dodgers’ first regular-season game in Los Angeles, a 6-5 win over the Giants at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. It also was the 60th anniversary of Hall of Fame Vin Scully’s first regular-season game in the Dodgers’ broadcast booth. … Ramirez needs two RBIs to become the 19th player in history with 1,800. … Reserve INF Ronnie Belliard made a rare start at 1B in place of James Loney, who is 1 for 20 with six strikeouts against Zito.
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