Dodgers-Astros: Los Angeles Offense Stumbles in Manny's Return to Chavez Ravine

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Dodgers-Astros: Los Angeles Offense Stumbles in Manny's Return to Chavez Ravine

The Los Angeles Dodgers (56-33) began the second half of the season with the first of a four game series against the visiting Houston Astros (45-44) at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night.

Dodgers fans welcomed back superstar left-fielder Manny Ramirez for the first time since May 6 but were disappointed by a 3-0 loss and a Dodgers lineup that went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The crowd at Chavez Ravine showed appreciation for the man who filled for Ramirez during his 50-game absence. Juan Pierre pinch-hit in the seventh inning and got a standing ovation from the Dodgers faithful, but struck out swinging with two men on and no outs.

Orlando Hudson was 3-for-4 with a double but the Dodgers scattered just five other singles on the night while being shutout. One of those singles came from Ramirez who had a quiet night and went 1-for-4.

The game played out to be a pitcher’s duel between Dodgers’ starter Randy Wolf and the Astros Wandy Rodriguez both of whom have a similar style on the hill, working a slow breaking-ball to setup their fastball.

Rodriguez earned the victory over six scoreless innings, limiting the Dodgers to just five hits and fanning six.

Wolf also worked six innings but came out on the short end despite striking out six. In his 19 starts this season he has gone at least six innings in 16 of those outings.

He gave up three runs on only five hits on Thursday but got no run support from his offense that was on a tear going into the All-Star break.

The Dodgers’ southpaw faced only a few problems throughout the evening and worked out of a tough one early on when Kaz Matsui led off the third with a long double off the top of the left field wall.

The ball missed flying out of the yard by mere inches, and it proved to be huge as Matsui didn’t advance past second because Wolf came back to strikeout the next two hitters. He then induced a Michael Bourne ground out to escape without allowing a run to cross.

The Dodgers were able to put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth inning, but Rodriguez struck out Matt Kemp and forced Russell Martin to roll into a fielder’s choice to end the threat unscathed.

Humberto Quintero broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth when he stroked a two-out home run. The ball barely cleared the right-center field wall, but it put the Astros on top 1-0.

It was Quintero’s first home run of the season.

Los Angeles responded by mounting another attack in the bottom of the fifth. A James Loney single followed by an Orlando Hudson double put runners at second and third with no outs.

Wolf grounded to second and with the infield in, Loney had no chance to score from third. Rafael Furcal came up next and showed great patience in drawing a walk to load the bases, but Andre Ethier tapped into an easy 6-3 double play ball to get Rodriguez out of another jam.

Houston added two runs in the seventh, including a Matsui RBI single, and chased Wolf from the game.

Four Dodgers relievers worked three scoreless innings but the Dodgers couldn’t find any luck against the Astros bullpen.

Jose Valverde came on to pitch the ninth and gave up a two-out single to Hudson. He got Mark Loretta to groundout and earned his ninth save of the season.

 

 

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WP: Rodriguez (9-6)

LP: Wolf (4-4)

SV: Valverde (9)

 

Notes from Thursday night:

 

Double the Fun

After slugging home runs from both sides of the plate on Sunday against the Brewers, in addition to his cycle on Apr. 13, Orlando Hudson became the first Dodger in franchise history to accomplish both feats in one season.

 

Hometown Blues

Since beginning the season with a record 13-0 start at Dodger Stadium, the Blue Crew is just 15-14.

 

Another Pitcher’s Duel on Tap

Tomorrow night pits two dominant pitchers against one another at Chavez Ravine: the Dodgers’ All-Star Chad Billingsley (9-4, 3.38 ERA) the Astros reliable Roy Oswalt (5-4, 3.85 ERA).

 

PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers 

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