No matter who is managing in the other dugout, nothing can derail the Los Angeles Dodgers these days.
Zack Greinke pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Hanley Ramirez homered to lead the streaking Dodgers to a 4-0 victory over new manager Ryne Sandberg and the slumping Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
The defeat capped a tumultuous and emotional day for Philadelphia. Charlie Manuel, the winningest manager in club history, was fired earlier in the day by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who broke down when delivering the news.
"It was a roller coaster of a day emotionally," Sandberg said. "It affected me and I think it affects the players."
Sandberg, the Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman, was promoted from third base coach to interim manager. But the Phillies, who have lost 20 of 24, didn’t play any differently for Sandberg.
The Dodgers didn’t play any differently, either.
Ramirez’s two-run homer in the fourth was all the offense Greinke (11-3) needed to lead Los Angeles to its season-best ninth straight win and 18th victory in its last 19 road games. The Dodgers are 41-8 since June 22.
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said his club’s approach is simple: just win.
"The plan is intact, just win every night," he said. "I want to win every day."
Jokingly asked if all the winning has gotten boring, Mattingly said, "Are you kidding me? It’s been great."
Greinke won his third straight start while outpitching Cliff Lee (10-6) in a matchup of former AL Cy Young Award winners. The right-hander struck out three and walked four.
"I felt pretty good. I was just trying to make pitches," Greinke said. "I’m just trying to do my job and the bullpen has been incredible. Lately everybody is talking about it. Nothing is going bad. The pitching, the defense, the hitting and the bullpen have been great. We’ve won a lot of close games. You expect to win. That’s how it’s been."
It’s been the opposite for the Phillies, even on days when they get a strong pitching performance.
Lee, who entered 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts, looked more like the $120 million pitcher he is by tossing eight strong innings. He allowed three runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
Ramirez had one of those hits, a drive to left in the fourth that put Los Angeles ahead 2-0. He is 8 for 16 with three homers against Lee.
"Other than that, I was pleased," Lee said.
But no one who spoke in the Phillies’ clubhouse was happy about Manuel’s departure.
"I definitely enjoyed Charlie and liked playing for him," Lee said. "I thought he did a good job. It’s definitely our fault. We weren’t getting it done."
And they couldn’t get it done against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles added a run in the seventh on Mark Ellis’ double and another in the ninth on Scott Van Slyke’s single.
"Everybody’s just trying to do their job, not try to do too much," Ramirez said.
The Phillies, as has been the case for most of the second half, had no answer. Sandberg questioned the team’s focus before the game, calling its play "lackadaisical" at times lately. Philadelphia’s batters appeared to be trying, but they couldn’t produce runs off Greinke or three Dodgers relievers.
The Phillies finished with just three hits while being shut out for the 11th time.
"Not executing and lackadaisical play are completely different but look the same," Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
The Phillies threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs before Ronald Belisario struck out Darin Ruf.
It’s been that kind of season for Philadelphia, especially lately.
Manuel paid for it.
The 69-year-old skipper was in the final year of his contract and wanted to manage another two or three seasons.
"I never quit nothing and I didn’t resign," Manuel said, making it clear he was pushed out the door.
Phillies fans responded to the news by bringing impromptu signs to the game thanking Manuel for his tenure. One of the loudest cheers of the evening went to a young boy shown on the electronic scoreboard wearing a T-shirt that read: "Thanks Charlie. I’ll Miss You."
Sandberg managed the Phillies’ Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley the previous two seasons. He was part of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history when the Phillies traded him and Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus in 1982.
Amaro said Sandberg takes over on an interim basis and would be evaluated after the season. Sandberg inherited a team that entered Friday 20 games out of first place in the NL East.
"These guys are professional players, they’re getting paid well," Sandberg said. "Sometimes players have to dig deeper, play with pride, play with heart and for the name on the front of the uniform."
Manuel won his 1,000th game as a manager on Monday in Atlanta. Two days later, he sat in the dugout knowing it would be his last game after Amaro informed him of the decision not to extend his contract. The Phillies had planned to honor Manuel on Friday by presenting him with a base signed by every member of the team. Those plans were canceled.
Manuel led Philadelphia to the franchise’s second World Series title in 2008 and brought the team back to the Series in 2009, when the Phillies lost to the Yankees in six games.
Manuel was 780-636 with the Phillies and won five straight NL East titles from 2007-11. He also spent three years as manager of the Cleveland Indians, winning the AL Central in 2001.
NOTES: It was the Dodgers’ 15th shutout of the season. … Dodgers C A.J. Ellis took a foul ball by Ruf off his left knee in the eighth. A limping Ellis remained in the game. … The Dodgers recalled Van Slyke from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned shortstop Dee Gordon to their top farm club. Van Slyke went 1 for 4 with an RBI. … Philadelphia placed left-hander John Lannan on the disabled list with left knee tendinosis and recalled right-handed reliever B.J. Rosenberg, who has a 12.00 ERA in three appearances this season. … Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-7, 1.88 ERA) opposes Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (10-9, 4.48) on Saturday night.