H-e-e-e-s Back! (Again)

Happy Days are here again

Manny Ramirez would dispute the headline, telling reporters after the game, "I never went anywhere," As Mark Twain might say, "The rumor of the Dodgers death is highly exaggerated." L.A. unlimbered their long-range guns in the second game of the series, winning 9-1 for star-crossed Randy Wolf for the first time in four starts. The win dumped the Giants 7 1/2 back and Colorado, who lost, 6 1/2,

. Ramirez's batting average melted down from .352 to .302 after the All-Star break but recently he has turned things around and is 7-for-10. "I feel good, my swing is good," said Ramirez. "You don't understand. Everything I do now is extra. I give 100 percent and sometimes it doesn't go your way, so you just come back the next day and try again."

As delighted about Manny's return to form as the Dodgers fans are -- and they are -- Ramirez was pretty unconcerned about the whole thing. "When you play 162 games, things like this are going to happen. We're fine," Ramirez said. "We've still got two months to go, so it doesn't matter if we come here and win three or lose two. We've still got to push it ‘til the end."

The bombardment included 11 hits, five of them for extra bases. Matt Kemp homered, Ramirez doubled and homered and Andre Ethier doubled twice, the trio accounting for eight runs batted in. James Loney, starting after two days off and suffering a 1-for-20 slump, singled twice and accounted for the ninth run.

Kemp and Ramirez homered in the five-run seventh inning, sending the 41,167 Giants fan scurrying for safety like line handlers under the Hindenburg.

Randy Wolf, given run support beyond his wildest dreams, allowed only three hits and a single run while pitching eight innings, his longest outing of the season. Wolf retired 16 of his final 19 batters and despite a 6-6 record, he has had quality starts in eight of his last nine appearances.

All of the pyrotechnics came in the fifth and seventh innings.

The Giants scored their single run in the third inning on a walk, a bloop single to left, a bunt and a sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers had managed three hits going into the fifth. Then Rafael Furcal walked, Russ Martin was safe on an error and Ether doubled to deep right to drive both of them in. Ramirez followed with an RBI double and with one out Loney singled across the fourth run.

Los Angeles went out in order in the sixth, then put the game away in the seventh.

Ethier singled and Ramirez homered (#13). Casey Blake walked, Loney singled again and Kemp boomed a shot over the center field wall (#16) and there was nothing much left but to play out the string.

The win gave the Dodgers some separation in the N.L. West race and a 7-4 edge in the season series. Much like the Al Capp character General Bullmoose in the cartoon strip L'il Abner who would say, "What's good for Bullmoose is good for the country," it is more apparent than ever what's good for Manny is good for the Dodgers.

"It takes pressure off the other guys who are trying to pick up the slack," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I saw patience. Obviously the first two times up he [Manny] didn't need much patience. He has good plate coverage. He had two strikes against him when he hit the home run."

Ramirez again got his quota and more of the boos rained down when he stepped into the batter's box and that will probably be the norm away from Mannywood. But the stands went silent when he drove a mammoth shot into the left field seats on a 1-2 pitch. It was his seventh homer since returning from a 50-game suspension.

Ramirez had been intentionally walked in the first and third innings, homered in the fifth, doubled in the seventh and then struck out looking to end the eighth, on a pitch he felt was ball four. Ramirez has struck out 20 times in his last 17 games.

The Giants, who had wanted to use the series to make up some ground on the Dodgers, felt that the error by starter Joe Martinez in the fifth inning was the key to the game. They have now dropped consecutive home series for the first time all season.

"It turned the whole game around, there's no getting around it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was a routine double-play ball and Joe threw a sinker to second Eugenio couldn't handle and it and that was when things turned around."

Second baseman Orlando Hudson was held out of the lineup after leaving Monday night's 4-2 win with a strained left groin.

The Dodgers won for the fifth time in their last six road games and, looking for a sweep of the series today, they seemingly send Daniel into the Lion's Den against the Giants' ace Tim Lincecum.

RHP Jeff Weaver (5-4, 3.90 ERA) gets the spot start as Chad Billingsley's replacement after the top Dodgers winner suffered a slight hamstring pull in his last appearance. Weaver is 2-1 with a 3.47 ERA in five starts for the Dodgers this year. He's 3-5 with a 5.00 ERA in 14 career starts against the Giants and 3-3 at AT&T Park.

RHP Tim Lincecum (12-3, 2.20 ERA) leads the Major Leagues with 198 strikeouts but is only 2-2 in afternoon games this season. He's 7-1 at home and 3-0 against the Dodgers in his career.

  Score by Innings
Los Angeles	000 040 500-9
San Francisco	001 000 000-1

  Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  1  1  0  .263
Martin c	4  1  0  0  .267
Ethier rf	5  2  2  2  .273
Ramirez lf	3  2  2  3  .319
 Pierre lf	0  0  0  0  .316
Blake 3b	4  1  0  0  .286
Loney 1b	4  1  2  1  .284
Kemp cf        	5  1  1  3  .313
Castro 2b	4  0  1  0  .314
Wolf p        	4  0  1  0  .146
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
--------------------------------
  Totals  	37  9 11  9
  San Francisco	29  1  4  1

  2B- Ethier 2 (28), Ramirez (18).
HR- Ramirez (13), Kemp (16).
RBI- Ethier 2 (75), Ramirez 3 (44),
Loney (69), Kemp 3 (75). S- Martin.
LOB- Los Angeles 7, San Francisco 4.
DP- Blake, Castro and Loney. 

  Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so  era
Wolf (6-6)      8.0  3  1-1  1  3  3.43
McDonald	1.0  1  0-0  0  0  4.04
  HBP- by Wolf. T- 2:49. Att- 41,167.
Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers sent lefty Eric Stults back to Albuquerque and brought up knuckleballer Charlie Haeger who was 11-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 22 starts for the Isotopes. Haeger has pitched in the major leagues for both the White Sox and Padres. ...In the firs two games of the series, Kemp has two hits and six RBIs. ...Hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg took the Dodgers Ticket Truck on its inaugural drive Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers Ticket Truck, first of its kind in Major League Baseball, will take sales on the road and give fans access to Dodgers tickets in their own communities. Similar to the Dodger Stadium box office, fans can purchase tickets from the Dodgers Ticket Truck without incurring a service charge. ...The Dodgers have the best record in the National League at 69-45 and the largest lead of any first-place NL team, 6.5 games better than NL West rival Colorado, which has a 62-51 record.  The Dodgers are 1.5 games behind the Yankees (70-43) for the best record in the Majors. ...Since giving up 10 runs in 8.0 innings in a 10-0 loss July 28 at St. Louis, the Dodgers pitching staff has posted a 1.70 ERA (13 ER/68.2 IP) in its last six road games. The Dodgers' offense is batting .304 (207-for-682) in its last 18 road games beginning July 3, recording at least 10 hits in 10 of those contests. ...Los Angeles had lost three series in a row at AT&T Park, and the win last night gave the club its first series win in San Francisco since taking two of three games from July 4-6, 2008.  

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