One reason the Florida Marlins are still in contention is that NL batting leader Hanley Ramirez is doing a much better job this season of hitting in clutch situations.
Ramirez drove in three runs with a pair of two-out hits, leading Florida to an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday and helping the Marlins win their third straight series at Chavez Ravine.
Ramirez was 2 for 4, raising his career average at Dodger Stadium to .344. He’s hitting .348 overall this season and .427 with runners in scoring position – second in the majors. Last season, the two-time All-Star shortstop had a .239 average in that department.
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“He led off his first three years in the major leagues and won a Silver Slugger. Now we’ve put him in the three hole and he’s driving in runs,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “This guy can do anything on the baseball field. If you ask him to play center field tomorrow, he may win a Gold Glove. He’s that talented.”
Chris Volstad (8-9) allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander was helped by three double plays, one of them in the first when Orlando Hudson took off from first base on Andre Ethier‘s long drive to center fielder Cody Ross and couldn’t get back in time after having to retouch second.
The Marlins were leading 8-0 when Dodgers reliever Jeff Weaver hit Ramirez with two out and the bases empty in the sixth, resulting in an emphatic warning to both benches by plate umpire and crew chief Bob Davidson.
“There’s nothing I can say about it. Everybody knows I got hit on purpose – even their team,” Ramirez said. “But it’s not going to change anything with me. I’m still going to play my game.”
Volstad, perhaps feeling that the inside part of the plate had been taken away from him by Davidson, surrendered hits to four of his next five batters as the Dodgers cut the eight-run deficit in half. James Loney hit a two-run double and Russell Martin added a two-run homer on Volstad’s 88th and final pitch.
“I don’t think the warning affected him at all. I mean, hit batters happen – and if it happens, it happens. That’s kind of the way we approach it,” catcher John Baker said. “We don’t try to change our game plan because of outside factors. He’s still got to pitch his game. He was just a little bit more up in the zone that inning.”
Burke Badenhop, who relieved Volstad, plunked Hudson on the rear end with one out in the seventh and was immediately ejected along with Gonzalez.
“There are guys we have to pitch in, and Orlando Hudson‘s an example of that,” Baker said. “He’s killed us on balls out over the plate, so we have to pitch him in. And if somebody gets hit, then somebody gets hit.”
When Badenhop got back to the dugout, he received high-fives from just about everyone.
“I’m sure they didn’t like to see Hanley getting hit, but it is what it is,” said the right-hander, who did not hit a batter in his previous 52 innings this season. “Did you pay any attention to the eight runs we scored? I’m sure the guys were pretty happy then, too. Call it what you want. I hadn’t been out there for a week and I just yanked a fastball.”
Jason Schmidt (1-1) gave up five runs and five hits in three-plus innings, departing after Dan Uggla led off the fourth with a homer on the 26-year-old right-hander’s 51st pitch. The three-time All-Star, in his second start since undergoing two shoulder surgeries that sidelined him for the entire 2008 season, lost to the Marlins for the first time in nine career decisions.
Schmidt has allowed eight runs and 10 hits over 10 1-3 innings in his two starts. Will there be a third after this showing?
“I don’t know. That’s up to them. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’m kind of playing every game like it’s my last start. That’s the nature of the beast right now. You just kind of brush this one off to the side and hopefully get some stuff back for the next start.”
Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez did not start for the third time in 19 games since returning from his 50-game drug suspension on July 3.
Badenhop did not hit a batter in his previous 52 innings this season. … Schmidt plunked Emilio Bonifacio during Florida’s three-run third. … Baker threw out Juan Pierre trying to steal in the third, only the 13th runner he’s cut down in 65 attempts this season. Pierre led the NL with a career-high 65 RBIs for the Marlins in 2003, the year they beat Joe Torre’s Yankees in the World Series. … RHP Leo Nunez game up two-out RBI singles to Ethier and Loney in the ninth. … The Marlins have won eight of their last 11 games at Dodger Stadium. … The Marlins have hit only 14 home runs this month with four games remaining. They had 30 in June. … The Dodgers were 6-4 on their first homestand following the All-Star break.