Dodgers edge Rockies 1-0

By: AP/11 Sports
By: AP/11 Sports

Manny Ramirez's suspension didn't slow down the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers played their 50th and final game without Ramirez, beating the Colorado Rockies 1-0 Wednesday on pinch-hitter Rafael Furcal's RBI single in the eighth inning. During Ramirez's absence, the Dodgers went 29-21.

Ramirez was suspended for violating baseball's drug policy on May 7. He is eligible to return for Friday night's game at San Diego.

"It's not until you lose somebody like Manny that you realize that there's no safety net out there," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I continue to talk about how fortunate we've been with the number of close games we've won."

The Dodgers' sputtering offense has scored eight runs over the last five games.

"This ballclub feels pretty good about themselves," Torre said. "I mean, they're at a frustrated stage right now because we haven't scored runs and they're fighting it a little bit. But they've played hard. As a team, we've pretty much gotten a lot out of what we have.

Center fielder Matt Kemp is excited for Ramirez's return: "We get a great hitter back, somebody that can help us drive in some runs and get some things going."

Torre doesn't expect Ramirez to make an immediate impact after just five minor league rehab games.

"It's still going to take him some time to settle in, but I think it'll help everybody else, too," Torre said. "I'm going to get the same player back. I mean, I think his ability goes far beyond what caused the suspension. But it's going to take some time for him to get in game shape and for him to get comfortable."

Juan Pierre, who has started every game in left field during Manny's absence, will return to being a part-time player despite hitting .318 with 21 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 15 walks and 21 stolen bases.

"Juan came in and did an excellent job. He's an All-Star in my book," Kemp said. "If it wasn't for what he's done for our team, we wouldn't be in this position right now."

The defending NL West champions got off to a 21-8 start and had were on a seven-game winning streak with a 6 1/2-game lead in the division when Ramirez was suspended.

The Dodgers lost four of their next five, then went on a 12-3 run and increased their division lead to a season-best 9 1/2 games with a 1-0 win against Arizona on June 3. They've leveled off since then, going 13-11, But still entered Wednesday with a six-game lead over San Francisco.

"I'm not surprised by what they've done in his absence -- not with the addition of Orlando Hudson and what he's meant to their infield defense, the professional they have at third base in Casey Blake and the kind of year that Andre Ethier is having," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "They're a very talented team with a tremendous amount of athleticism, but the biggest thing has been the improvement of their bullpen."

Ramon Troncoso (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the win and Jonathan Broxton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 19th save for the Dodgers, who have a major league-leading 17 wins by a one-run margin.

Brad Ausmus led off the eighth inning with a single against Rockies starter Jason Hammel (5-4) and advanced on Juan Castro's sacrifice. Russell Martin ran for Ausmus and scored when Furcal stroked a single to right field on the right-hander's 100th pitch while batting for Troncoso.

Hammel pitched a career-high eight innings for his first complete game. It came in his 41st big league start. He allowed five hits and struck out five.

"One run can do it. That's baseball. I made a good pitch," said Hammel, who was 5-0 over his previous seven starts.

Clayton Kershaw allowed just one hit over five innings and threw 97 pitches. Kershaw struck out five and issued a season-high five walks.

Brad Hawpe's two-out double in the first inning was Colorado's only hit until Ian Stewart doubled with two outs in the seventh against Ronald Belisario.


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