Hanley Ramirez starred in his first performance in the storied Dodgers-Giants rivalry, crushing a hanging breaking ball from Sergio Romo two rows past the left-field wall in the top of the 10th inning.
The 5-3 win at AT&T Park snapped a three-game losing streak and opened the first of four second-half series between the two NL West hopefuls. It also moved the Dodgers to within two games of the first-place Giants before the teams quickly regroup. Chad Billingsley takes the hill opposite Barry Zito on a nationally televised FOX game at 1:05 p.m. PT Saturday.
The home run brought the personality out of Ramirez, who returned to the dugout in an interestingly orchestrated celebration that included fingers circling the eyes as mock glasses.
“I think we try to have fun with something. We came up with that. ‘Do you see me? I see you.’ It’s going to be fun,” Ramirez said on Dodgers Live following the game.
With four hits in 11 at-bats along with three runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base, Ramirez has found an immediate comfort zone during the second half of the team’s 10-game trip through New York, St. Louis and San Francisco. The team is 4-4 on the trip thus far.
“As soon as I got here, they just told me, ‘You just go play hard and have fun out there. That’s all we ask,'” Ramirez said. “It’s what I’ve been doing. It’s what I’ve got to do the rest of the season and as long as I’m here.”
Ramirez’s importance was also felt early in the game when a graceful lunge at third base helped minimize the trouble exacted upon Stephen Fife.
With Giants on first and second and one out in the bottom of the fourth, Fife fielded an attempted sacrifice bunt by Cain and threw wildly to third. Ramirez dove across the bag to catch the throw while brushing his foot atop the base in retiring the lead runner. Nate Schierholtz flew out to center one batter later on a ball tracked down by Matt Kemp with a terrific running catch on the verge of the warning track.
In the top of the fifth, it was Fife who created something out of nothing by doubling to right center with two outs and nobody on base. He scored on Jerry Hairston’s double to deep right field before Mark Ellis’ single scored Hairston.
Fife’s two quality starts and the efforts of Luis Cruz – who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a sixth-inning single – further the unheralded contributions by players recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque.
Fife’s run was the first scored by Los Angeles at AT&T Park since Tony Gwynn’s RBI double in the top of the second inning on September 11, 2011. Thirty-eight and two-thirds innings later, and after the Dodgers had been outscored 13-0 during a three-game Giants sweep in June, Hairston finally brought him home with an opposite-field double. One batter later, the Dodgers had their first lead in San Francisco this season.
“I saw all the fans cheering for the Giants,” Ramirez said of taking part in his first Dodgers-Giants game. “I think it’s a good rivalry. I like it. I like pressure like that.”