Mannywood’s main attraction was back in residence at Dodger Stadium and Manny Ramirez received a warm welcome, even if he wasn’t any help.
Wandy Rodriguez combined with four relievers on an eight-hitter in the Houston Astros‘ 3-0 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday night, spoiling Ramirez’s first game at home since his 50-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy ended.
“It was great. I was looking forward to this game,” he said. “I’m just glad I got that game out of the way. I was just playing the game like I always do.”
Back in Mannywood
Photos: How did Mannywood treat its hero in his return? Check out his reception in our gallery.
Just not with his usual results.
Ramirez went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts while being greeted with cheers, chants of his name and camera flashes that sparkled around the stadium. The Mannywood section in the field level seats has been restored.
“This is my town,” he said, laughing.
He singled to lead off the eighth, but he was erased on a double play one batter later.
“I wanted to make good pitches to Manny and I didn’t want to miss because he’s a good hitter,” Rodriguez said. “So I made good pitches to him and had good location with my breaking ball.”
In the ninth, Ramirez walked over to center fielder Matt Kemp and rested on one knee chatting with Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier as reliever Scott Elbert warmed up.
“Intensity is up a bit more than it was when he was gone,” Kemp said.
There were plenty of empty seats among the announced crowd of 45,970 for Ramirez’s return, which came after he rejoined the team at San Diego on July 3 for a nine-game road trip. Owners Frank and Jamie McCourt were out of town.
“I don’t need to talk about anything more. I just need to show up and play the game,” said Ramirez, who has repeatedly declined to explain what led to his suspension.
Ramirez’s return proved anticlimactic since he had already rejoined the team.
“We were all looking forward to it, but for us, we’ve been seeing him everyday,” manager Joe Torre said. “I knew there would be more attention than normal coming back on a road trip, unfortunately, we couldn’t win.
“We had a couple opportunities and we just couldn’t make anything out of it.”
That was because of Rodriguez (9-6), who gave up five hits in six innings, struck out six and walked two in winning his fifth in a row. The Astros have won the left-hander’s last five starts and six of his last seven.
Jose Valverde, the fourth Astros reliever, earned his ninth save in 13 chances.
“It was a great effort by Wandy,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. “It was big for him to go out there and throw up zeros like that against a pretty good hitting team. He had everything working and he made some huge pitches to get Manny. They really kind of pushed him in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but he maintained his composure and kept making pitches.”
There was one bit of bad news for Houston. First baseman Lance Berkman left the game with a mild left calf strain and is day to day. He’s leading the team in home runs and RBIs.
“I don’t think it’s bad,” Cooper said. “He’s got ice on it, so now we just have to wait and see tomorrow.”
Humberto Quintero hit his first home run of the season on the first pitch from Randy Wolf (4-4) with two outs in the fifth inning.
The left-hander allowed five hits and three runs in six-plus innings, with six strikeouts and one walk against his former team.
Wolf retired 14 of the first 16 batters he faced before giving up the homer. He retired the next four batters before allowing three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs in the seventh. Guillermo Mota replaced him and allowed an RBI single to Kazuo Matsui on his fourth pitch, making it 2-0.
“I felt great. It’s the sharpest I’ve been in a while,” Wolf said. “I located my fastball and just had a good feel.”
The Astros extended their lead to 3-0 on a double-play grounder by Quintero that scored Miguel Tejada.
Ethier hit into a bases-loaded double-play with Ramirez on deck in the fifth.
Juan Pierre, who replaced Ramirez in left field during the slugger’s suspension, got a standing ovation when he entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh. “If it wasn’t for Juan P. we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now,” Kemp said. … The Dodgers placed RHP Cory Wade on the 15-day DL and recalled INF Blake DeWitt from Triple A-Albuquerque. … The Astros recalled LHP Wesley Wright from Triple A-Round Rock to fill the roster spot vacated when RHP Felipe Paulino was optioned to Round Rock on Sunday.