Hanley's two homers fuel Dodgers' big outburst
Shortstop goes 4-for-4 with five RBIs; Ryu cruises to sixth win
LOS ANGELES -- Hanley Ramirez saw six pitches Saturday at Dodger Stadium. One was a called strike, another was a pitchout. Two were sinkers drilled for RBI singles. One was a sinker launched for a two-run homer to center field. The sixth and last pitch Ramirez saw was a curveball he lifted over the wall in dead center.
Nice work if you can get it.
With Ramirez heeding manager Don Mattingly's words and leading the charge with one of his familiar, much-needed eruptions, the Dodgers snapped a three-game losing streak in pounding the Pirates, 12-2, behind Hyun-Jin Ryu in front of 49,455 at Dodger Stadium.
A day after Mattingly said, "As Hanley goes, we go," Ramirez drove in runs with singles in his first two at-bats against Brandon Cumpton and unloaded a two-run homer during a five-run fourth inning that drove the Pirates' starter for cover.
Ramirez's second homer of the day and ninth of the season came in the sixth against reliever Bryan Morris, and Mattingly rewarded his shortstop with a few innings off.
Ramirez knows his responsibility to fuel his team and takes it personally when he's underachieving.
"That's why I haven't been smiling,"he said. "Nothing to smile about. When I go, the team [goes]. I haven't been going lately. I have responsibility -- everybody on the team has it -- for our job and the fans of L.A. Don't just come to play the game; come to win every day. That's what you're paid for -- to win a championship."
The old expression that you don't walk off the island in Latin America rings true for Ramirez, who needs an assertive mindset to thrive.
"I'm not a hitter who's got to be patient," Ramirez said, not needing to be told he'd drilled four of the five pitches available to him. "It's like Mark [McGwire, hitting coach] told me: 'You've got many hits out of the strike zone. Why change?' It looked like I was thinking too much. A lot of players can do that. I can't do it."
Mattingly saw Ramirez come alive in his final two at-bats Friday night, lining singles with a more upright stance.
"Obviously, it looked like he found something," Mattingly said. "It looked like he was taller."
Pitching through trouble most of the day, Ryu was the beneficiary of an offensive assault that began with a pair of first-inning runs driven home by Ramirez and Matt Kemp. A hitless stretch of 20 at-bats ended for Kemp with his single through a Pittsburgh shift.
Scuffling Adrian Gonzalez joined the fun in the third inning with an RBI double. A two-base error was charged to left fielder Starling Marte on Andre Ethier's drive to the wall, followed by singles by Yasiel Puig and Ramirez before Gonzalez's double. Puig, finishing a spectacular May, extended his streak of reaching base safely to 32 games, highest in the Majors.
Kemp had a sacrifice fly and Justin Turner singled home a run during the four-run uprising that served as a warmup for the fourth-inning explosion that began with Dee Gordon's triple. Ramirez's two-run blast to center was followed by consecutive singles from Gonzalez, Kemp and Turner and a two-run triple by catcher Drew Butera.
With hits in six consecutive at-bats going back to Friday night, Ramirez raised his batting average 20 points to .265. He batted .345 last season with 20 homers in 86 games, getting a late start because of a fractured right thumb sustained playing third base for the Dominican Republic in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.
Cumpton (0-2) had yielded a total of two earned runs in the first four innings of his eight Major League starts. This outing unraveled quickly, courtesy of Ramirez.
"He was aggressive," Cumpton said. "I knew almost all of them would be aggressive early in the count, especially after they found out I started falling behind the count -- and not being able to locate the fastball where I wanted to, [they] started jumping on them early."
Ryu, perfect through seven innings in his most recent outing, gave up a single to Josh Harrison leading off the game. The Pirates pushed across a run in the fourth when Jordy Mercer doubled with two outs to score Jose Tabata, who'd singled.
Ryu managed to escape the fifth unscathed despite a pair of Pirates hits, thanks to a leaping stab by Ramirez at shortstop robbing Neil Walker of a hit. Singles by Tabata, Chris Stewart and pinch-hitter Travis Snider produced a run in the sixth.
Ramirez's five RBIs tied a career high for the fifth time. His four runs scored also tied a career best, for the fourth time.
"The history he has against this organization is significant," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I saw him break in ... had him on the All-Star team in 2008. He found some good pitches to hunt, and put some good swings on them."
Ryu, moving to 6-2, departed having allowed 10 hits in six innings. Jamey Wright worked three innings of one-hit ball in relief for his first save of the season and second of his career.
"He seems always to do that," Mattingly said of Ryu's high-wire act. "He bends but doesn't break. Guys get in scoring position, they act a little differently and get anxious. He seems to be able to take advantage of that."
Ryu, who walked none and struck out four, had one huge break. He didn't have to face Hanley Ramirez.