LOS ANGELES — Through most of the first two months of the season, Yasiel Puig batted second and Hanley Ramirez hit third for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez is still hitting behind Puig, only now they are in the third and fourth spots, and the change is starting to generate positive results for manager Don Mattingly.
Ramirez homered twice, drove in five runs and scored four times, tying career highs in all three categories and leading the defending NL West champions to a 12-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
"I just try to help the team any way I can," Ramirez said. "When Donnie asked me if I was OK with it, I said: ‘I just want to win.’ Puig’s been doing a great job, so why not hit him third so he can learn how to drive runs in?"
Ramirez, whose 4 for 4 day increased his career average against Pittsburgh to .362, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning against Brandon Cumpton and led off the sixth against Bryan Morris with his ninth of the season.
The 2009 NL batting champion and three-time All-Star shortstop is 8 for 20 with eight RBI in five starts in the cleanup spot after missing four games because of a sore left calf.
"He found some good pitches to hunt and put some good swings on some balls," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The history he’s got against this organization is significant. I saw him break in. I had him on the All-Star team in 2008. He’s a good player, a good hitter, and he’s done some damage at the plate. He also stole a base today, so that shows you his wheel’s OK."
Puig had an infield hit in the third inning and has reached base in 32 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the majors. He is 13 for 32 with a homer and three RBI in nine games since Mattingly moved him from second to third in the lineup, and the Dodgers are 5-4 during that stretch.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2) breezed to his third victory in a row, allowing two runs and 10 hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Last Monday at Dodger Stadium, Ryu did not allow a baserunner through the first seven innings of his 4-3 victory over Cincinnati.
"He threw the ball really well," catcher Drew Butera said. "He had good command, changed speeds well in and out and did a real good job focusing on every pitch, and he made my job easy. Our guys do a really good job of having a plan and purpose every pitch."
Jamey Wright was credited with his second save in 19 major-league seasons, after pitching the final three innings and allowing one hit. His other save was in 2011 with Seattle.
Cumpton (0-2) was charged with 11 runs — 10 earned — and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander had allowed a total of one run during the first four innings of his eight previous major-league starts.
"I was getting behind guys, so they were sitting on heaters and doing what they get paid to do," Cumpton said. "When I made my pitch, it found a hole — and when I didn’t make my pitch, it found a gap. It’s discouraging, but it’s only one start. I’ve gotten beaten around before and I’m sure it’s going to happen again. But I’m not going to hang my head over it."
The Dodgers staked Ryu to an 11-1 lead with two runs in the first inning, four in the third and five more in the fourth. Ramirez and Matt Kemp triggered the onslaught with two-out RBI singles during Cumpton’s 28-pitch first inning.
Cumpton threw only 18 pitches during the Dodgers’ third-inning rally, as four batters put the ball in play on the first offering and two others did on the second.
"I knew almost all of them were going to be aggressive early in the count," Cumpton said. "That’s a great lineup. They made me throw pitches, and when I got behind, they made me pay."
Andre Ethier started things off in the third with a drive that popped out of left fielder Starling Marte‘s glove for a two-base error as his left arm hit the fence. Ramirez and Justin Turner had RBI singles, Adrian Gonzalez doubled home a run and Kemp hit a sacrifice fly.
After Ramirez’s first homer, Turner chased Cumpton three batters later with another RBI single and Butera greeted Jeanmar Gomez with a two-run triple.
3B Josh Harrison had two hits, including a single on Ryu’s third pitch of the game. He is batting .324 in the 19 games he’s started in the leadoff spot. … Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen has no RBI or extra-base hits in nine games and 32 at-bats since his run-scoring single against Washington’s Blake Treinen on May 22. … Marte has no RBI in 42 career at-bats against the Dodgers, and teammate Jose Tabata has none in 29 at-bats against them. … Butera has three triples in 574 career at-bats.