SAN DIEGO -- Petco Park is a big ball park. Manny Ramirez makes it look small.
The Power Trip Continues
Manny Ramirez shows no sign of letting up on his late-season homer tear as the Dodgers slugger hit his seventh and eighth shots in his last 13 games Wednesday. Major league homer leaders since Aug. 1:
"When he hits the ball in the air, it doesn't come down," Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.Ramirez hit two prodigious two-run homers, both to the deepest part of the park in center field and the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 7-2 on Wednesday night and extended their lead in the NL West to a season-high 3 1/2 games over Arizona.The home runs, a 435-foot blast in the fifth off Shawn Estes (2-2) and a 404-foot shot off Dirk Hayhurst in the ninth, were his 523rd and 524th of his career.It marked the 52nd time Ramirez hit multiple home runs in game, the second with Los Angeles. He has 34 homers this season, 14 since being acquired by the Dodgers in a three-way trade. He has 40 RBIs in 38 games with Dodgers.Derek Lowe (13-11), allowed one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings before leaving with a sore knee. It was his third straight victory as the Dodgers won for the 10th time in 11 games.Lowe was hit in the back of the right knee by a hard one-hopper by Kevin Kouzmanoff."You never want to come out of game," Lowe said. "I normally get hit in the calf, but this was kind of below the back of the knee."Lowe, who was staked to a 5-1 lead, took a few warmup pitches after Torre came out to see him."He was a little stiff," Torre said. "His pitch count was getting up there . This was going to be his last inning, but I still had to wrestle the ball away from him."Lowe was impressed by Ramirez's latest power display."What can you saw about Manny?" Lowe said. "He's been absolutely phenomenal since we've got him."This is clearly a pitcher's park, we all know that. You don't see too many balls at night to center field and to be able to do it twice is pretty impressive."Padres manager Bud Black and Ramirez played together with Cleveland in 1995."His swing is so pure," Black said. "He stays on the ball such a long time. I can only imagine his vision must be incredible -- just to see the ball so well in times like these."While there was no doubt about Ramirez's first home run, the fifth-longest at Petco this season, his second barely cleared the fence."I thought he [Will Venable] was going to catch it," Ramirez said. "I was watching him and I thought he was going to get it."The home run was the third in two nights for Ramirez at Petco.Mike Ekstrom, making his major league debut for San Diego, struck out Ramirez looking in the seventh."I probably went about it the wrong way by walking the two batters before him," Ekstrom said. "I was trying not to see who was up. I was just trying to keep my head down, but it was still hard not to notice."Ekstrom pitched two scoreless innings.James Loney homered for the Dodgers, hitting his 12th to ignite a three-run second inning.The homer was his first extra base hit in 13 games. Blake DeWitt's RBI double and Russell Martin's RBI single produced the other runs.The Padres scored in the first on a leadoff double by Brian Giles and two infield grounders, the second by Kouzmanoff that drove in a run.That run snapped Lowe's 19 consecutive scoreless innings streak.Dodgers right-hander Brad Penny, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list (right shoulder inflammation) earlier Wednesday came on to start the seventh. He didn't get an out as he walked the leadoff batter Venable and gave up singles to Josh Bard and Matt Antonelli.Cory Wade came on for the Dodgers and after giving up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Drew Macias, who got his first major league RBI, got Giles to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal, who has been on the DL since May 6 before having lower back surgery, was one of the hitters to face Takashi Saito in a simulated game Wednesday. Torre said he is hopeful Furcal could return before the end of the regular season. ... Joe Beimel extended his Dodgers record when he pitched in his 96th consecutive game without allowing a home run.