Manny belts game-winning, pinch grand slam

BY foxsports • July 23, 2009

Manny Ramirez unleashed his pent-up power in one electrifying swing that landed, fittingly, in Mannywood.

Ramirez's tie-breaking pinch-hit grand slam in the sixth inning on his bobblehead night Wednesday sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-2 victory over Cincinnati, their 12th consecutive at home against the Reds.

"It's crazy," he said.

He was kept out of the starting lineup for precautionary reasons with a sore left hand after being hit by a pitch a night earlier.

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"Just the way he was sort of stalking around the dugout, I could feel something would happen if he had the opportunity," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Did it ever.

It was Ramirez's grandest moment since returning July 3 from a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug rules. He's batting .347 with four homers and 17 RBI in 16 games since coming back.

"I guess Manny's hand wasn't as bad as we thought," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It doesn't get more dramatic than that — a grand slam on your own bobblehead night. That's the stuff that I'd seen out of Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron."

Ramirez said his hand felt good, but that he planned to ice it after the game.

Fans at the sold-out game chanted "Manny! Manny!" as they saw him in the dugout putting on his batting helmet. The anticipation built as the Reds changed pitchers.

Without a single practice swing, Ramirez sent the first pitch from reliever Nick Masset into the Mannywood section of lower left field seats for his 21st career grand slam, giving Los Angeles a 6-2 lead and putting the crowd into a frenzy.

"It reminded me how loud it got when we hit those four (consecutive) homers against San Diego," catcher Russell Martin said, referring to a dramatic Dodgers win in 10 innings against San Diego in 2006.

It moved Ramirez into second on the career grand slam list, trailing only Lou Gehrig's 23. It was his first grand slam since 2005.

"It was one of the best moments in my career," he said. "I'm just glad it happened in LA."

Ramirez had never seen Masset pitch before, let alone heard of him.

"That's pretty much the area I wanted to put the ball. It just didn't sink the way it normally does," Masset said. "I was just trying to jam him, get a ground ball and get out of the inning. I was basically trying to go at him with my best stuff and it didn't work out."

Teammates shoved Ramirez onto the top step of the dugout, where he waved his cap to acknowledge a standing ovation for his 11th homer of the season and his first career pinch-hit homer.

"He's the magic man," Martin said.

It was Ramirez's first homer into the "Mannywood" section, which was resurrected after his suspension ended.

Ramirez's exhilarating moment was the only souvenir for 6,000 fans who went home without a bobblehead, which were limited to the first 50,000.

"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," said Ramirez, who arrived at his locker and peeled off his Dodgers shirt and white pants to reveal street clothes.

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