Manny Delivers In Dodgers Win

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

NEW YORK(AP) Randy Wolf was looking for a lucky number. All he really needed was Manny Ramirez 's bat.

Ramirez hit two RBI singles to key an early outburst against struggling starter Livan Hernandez , and Wolf pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers past the New York Mets 11-2 on Thursday night for his first win in eight outings.

Hoping to change his fortunes and avoid yet another no-decision, Wolf (4-3) switched Wednesday from jersey number 21 to 43 - the digits he used to wear with Philadelphia. One night later, he received a sudden surge of run support from Ramirez & Co.

''There's not a baseball player that's not superstitious,'' Wolf said. ''And if they tell you they're not, they're lying.''

Dropped to seventh in the batting order, slumping All-Star Orlando Hudson responded with a three-run double that capped a four-run first inning. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal had three hits and scored three times, and the Dodgers cruised to an easy victory that boosted baseball's best record to 54-31.

Los Angeles took two of three in its first trip to Citi Field and won the season series 5-1 against the injury-ravaged Mets, who have lost five of six and 10 of 13.

''When you fall behind that big that early, it's a tough hole,'' Mets third baseman David Wright said. ''We've got a room full of guys who have been in tough times before. We have to turn this thing around and we are confident we can do it.''

The only downer for the Dodgers: Hudson came out in the seventh after being hit above the left knee by Brian Stokes ' pitch. But the second baseman said he was fine and expects to play Friday night in Milwaukee.

Russell Martin added a two-run single and Ramirez had a perfect night at the plate, going 2 for 2 with two walks before taking a seat in the seventh. He is 6 for 18 (.333) with two homers and seven RBIs in six games since returning from a 50-game drug suspension.

''I'm getting there. I haven't played in two months. Got to go baby steps,'' Ramirez said.

The Dodgers, who had 17 hits, drew 25 walks in the series.

''We've been aggressive. Manny makes a big difference in our lineup, there's no question,'' manager Joe Torre said. ''I think it helps our personality when guys who maybe put a little extra pressure on themselves when he was gone look to him like a security blanket.''

Wolf's new uniform number brought a win, but perhaps most important was his matchup with the fourth-place Mets (40-44).

The left-hander improved to 12-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 30 starts against New York, his most wins against any team. He is 6-0 in his last nine outings vs. the Mets since losing on May 4, 2005, with the Phillies.

Wolf labored through 6 1-3 gritty innings, giving up seven hits and throwing a season-high 118 pitches. He entered 0-2 in seven starts since beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on May 28.

Hernandez (5-5) allowed hits to his first three batters and was hammered for four innings while dropping his fourth straight start. Serving up his usual array of soft stuff, the right-hander yielded eight runs and 11 hits - both season highs - while walking four.

Three of the 12 outs made by the Dodgers while he was on the mound came when runners were thrown out on the bases, including a pickoff play. Another out came on a sacrifice bunt.

After three solid months in the rotation, Hernandez has been terrible in July. He has given up 15 earned runs, 21 hits and eight walks over seven innings in two starts against first-place teams: Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel wouldn't rule out removing Hernandez from the rotation after the All-Star break.

''We have to think of all the options at this point,'' Manuel said. ''Everything is possible.''

Batting seventh for the first time this season, Hudson snapped a 2-for-32 slide with a first-inning double that made it 4-0.

''It's a good lineup. I don't think when we rearrange the pieces that you can really go wrong,'' Torre said.

NOTES: The last time Hernandez lost four consecutive starts in one season was 2002. ... Torre said he might give Ramirez a rest this weekend in Milwaukee. ... Ramirez is 7 for 10 with a homer and seven RBIs against Hernandez. ... Wolf was 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts at the Mets' previous home, Shea Stadium. ... The Dodgers won the season series for the first time since going 4-2 in 2002. ... Mets cleanup hitter Gary Sheffield was ejected by plate umpire Marty Foster after getting called out on strikes to end the seventh.


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