When Hanley Ramirez hits, the Dodgers win — or so it seems.
"That's why I haven't been smiling a lot, because I know that," Ramirez said.
Ramirez was smiling again Saturday. He broke out offensively, and, coincidentally or not, so did the Dodgers.
Ramirez belted a couple of home runs and drove in five runs in a 12-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers, who ended a three-game losing streak, scored more runs than they had in any game this season.
"When I go, the team goes," Ramirez said. "I haven't been going lately."
His opinion was shared by Manager Don Mattingly, who offered Ramirez's inconsistency as a possible reason the Dodgers are 6 1/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
"Hanley's been up and down, it seems like all year," Mattingly said. "Maybe part of the reason we're like this as a team is that he really hasn't been able to sustain a run."
Even after collecting four hits, Ramirez was batting a pedestrian .265. He hit .345 last year for the Dodgers' division-winning team.
Ramirez admitted the responsibility weighed on him.
"For the team, for the fans in L.A., for everybody," Ramirez said. "This is a job. You don't just come here and play the game to play the game. You're here to win every day. It's what you get paid for, to win championships. But first, we have to win games every day."
Ramirez will be a free agent at the end of the season, but he denied that his uncertain contractual status was affecting his performance.
"I can live with whatever I have in the bank right now," Ramirez said with a smile.
Mattingly thought Ramirez might have found something Friday night, when he collected hits on his last two at-bats.
"Today, he just kind of followed up," Mattingly said.
Mattingly said Ramirez appeared to be standing taller in the batter's box, but Ramirez downplayed that.
"I change my batting stance through the year many, many times," Ramirez said. "Whatever I feel like that day, that's what I do."
As for his approach, Ramirez characterized it as simply as possible: See the ball and hit it.
He said he made a concerted effort to not think too much or be overly patient. He recalled a recent conversation with hitting coach Mark McGwire, who told him, "You get many, many hits out of the strike zone. Why are you trying to change?"
Ramirez was thrown six pitches Saturday, including a pitchout. He hit four of them.
Ramirez drove in two of the Dodgers' first three runs. He singled in Andre Ethier in the first inning and again in the third.
Soon, everyone was hitting. The only Dodgers starter to not be credited with a hit was Ethier, who had a potential double ruled an error and scored two runs.
Even Matt Kemp, who entered the game on a 0-for-20 skid, was two for four with two runs scored.
Ramirez's two-run home run sparked a five-run fourth inning for the Dodgers that extended their lead to 11-1.
Pirates starter Brandon Crumpton didn't make it out of the fourth. In 32/3 innings, Crumpton was charged with 11 runs, of which 10 were earned.
Ramirez's second home run came in the sixth inning. It was the ninth of the season for Ramirez, who was removed from the game in the top of the seventh.
Ramirez's five runs batted in and four runs scored matched single-game career bests.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times