With his slugger at less than 100 percent, Joe Torre kept Manny Ramirez out of the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting lineup in their last game. Even if Ramirez's hand is still bothering him, it would be tough for Torre to keep him on the bench again.
After Ramirez's pinch-hit grand slam led to a dramatic victory, the Dodgers look to win their sixth in a row Friday night in the opener of a three-game series versus the Florida Marlins.Ramirez didn't start Wednesday against Cincinnati after being hit in the left hand by a pitch a night earlier. With the score tied at 2 in the sixth inning, he sent the first pitch into the seats for his 21st career grand slam as Los Angeles won 6-2."It was one of the best moments in my career," said Ramirez, who is batting .347 with five homers and 17 RBI in 16 games since coming back from a 50-game drug suspension on July 3.After the game, Ramirez said his hand felt good and he is expected to start in left field in the opener of this series.The NL-leading Dodgers (61-34) enter this contest 27 games over .500 for the first time since the last day of the 1988 season, when they went on to win their most recent World Series. Los Angeles' lineup has been on a roll, scoring 34 runs during a five-game winning streak after plating just one while losing the first two games after the All-Star break."This ballclub is really playing well," Torre told the team's official Web site. "We were playing well before the break, and then came out maybe a little flat and lost a couple of games and we've responded since then."Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA) looks to continue his recent dominance. He's 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA in his last seven starts with the Dodgers winning each game.The left-hander gave up two hits with five strikeouts over seven shutout innings in Saturday's 5-2 win over Houston, and he's yielded only one run in 24 innings while limiting opponents to a .110 batting average in four starts this month.In his only career appearance against Florida on May 17, Kershaw gave up one run, one hit, walked four and struck out nine in seven innings of a 12-5 win.The Marlins (49-47) beat San Diego 5-0 on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep."It's big," said winning pitcher Ricky Nolasco. "We knew this week was big coming up for us. We know we've got the Dodgers coming up. We had to take at least two of three from here. It's a plus we took all of them."All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was 5 for 11 with a solo homer against San Diego and looks to continue his hot hitting at one of his favorite ballparks. Ramirez, who leads the majors with a .370 road batting average, is hitting .625 (15 for 24) with three home runs and five RBIs in six games at Dodger Stadium since 2007.Florida is trying to win four consecutive games since winning five in a row June 20-25, and will turn to fellow All-Star Josh Johnson (8-2, 2.74).Johnson has yielded three runs or fewer in a franchise-record 16 consecutive starts, but that doesn't include his last outing. The right-hander allowed one hit in two scoreless innings against Philadelphia on Friday before the game was called because of rain.This will be Johnson's first start against the Dodgers since allowing three runs and six hits in five innings of a 5-4, 11-inning win on July 10, 2008, his first start following right elbow surgery four months earlier.