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Dodgers 9, D'Backs 3

Red-hot Ramirez powers surging Dodgers

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Associated Press / August 4, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Chavez Ravine is rocking again on a daily basis - this time with Manny-mania.

Manny Ramírez flourished during his first three games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the balance of power in the NL West appears to have shifted in a dramatic way.

The 12-time All-Star and 2004 World Series MVP went 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBIs yesterday in a 9-3 victory over Arizona, making him 8 for 13 with five RBIs in three games since Thursday's three-way trade with the Red Sox and Pirates.

"He certainly changes the personality of our lineup," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That presence is going to help other people get better, because they're not going to want to pitch to Manny - especially with men on base. So it figures that the guys at the top of the lineup are going to get better pitches to hit."

Curtain calls and chants of "Man-ny! Man-ny!" have quickly become commonplace at Dodger Stadium since Ramírez came over.

"I really appreciate Manny being here, but I don't think he's our savior," second baseman Jeff Kent said. "Everybody wants him to be - and, man, I hope he is. But we still have to pitch and we still have to play."

Kent may have a better perspective on the situation than most because he played with Barry Bonds in San Francisco. And Kent is not yet ready to put Ramírez in that class.

"Barry was a home run threat every at-bat," Kent said. "I mean, he hit 70 home runs in one year. Manny's not going to do that . . . Hopefully, it'll just be easier for us to score runs than before when it was such a nail-pulling issue for us."

The Dodgers salvaged a split of the four-game series and sliced Arizona's division lead to one game. Matt Kemp, whose career-best 19-game hitting streak ended Saturday, had a homer and RBI single.

Ramírez hit an RBI single in the first inning, doubled home a run in the second, and went deep in the fifth for career homer No. 512, passing Mel Ott and moving into a tie with Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks for 20th place all time.

His second home run with the Dodgers traveled an estimated 436 feet into the pavilion seats in left field on a 1-and-2 pitch from reliever Billy Buckner. It came one pitch after Ramírez ran out a grounder behind third base at full speed and had to take a slow walk back to the plate when the ball was ruled foul.

Ramírez capped his first four-hit game since June 1, 2007, with an infield single in the ninth and scored on a triple by Pablo Ozuna. Ramírez nearly made it out of the clubhouse before a swarm of media engulfed him about 30 feet from a clean getaway.

"They gave me a lot of good pitches to hit and I drove it," Ramírez said. "I'm still nervous out there, but I'm going to play hard no matter what."

Ramirez is even getting loud ovations for making the simplest of catches in left field - and when he strikes out.

"I didn't know whether or not to give Manny a high-five after he struck out in the seventh, because they were cheering him pretty good out there," Kent said. "That just puts it in perspective. There is a lot of excitement going on right now with the fans."

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