Sports Dodgers

Dodgers strike early, overpower Cardinals, 9-1

Dodgers ride six-run second inning to 9-1 victory over St. Louis
Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez, Justin Turner leave game Saturday because of leg issues
Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw to face Cardinals in series finale Sunday

The Dodgers might not be playing like this in October, or playing at all, for that matter.

But over the last three days, they have shown they can play with the St. Louis Cardinals.

With Clayton Kershaw scheduled to pitch in the series finale Sunday, the Dodgers already have two victories in a four-game series against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.

Their victory Saturday was a resounding 9-1 thrashing at Dodger Stadium that included their highest-scoring inning of the season, a six-run second inning against Lance Lynn. They finished the game with 15 hits.

The Dodgers won the opener, 1-0, and lost the second game, 3-1.

The Dodgers have more than held their own against the National League's standard bearers with minimal contributions from Hanley Ramirez, something they couldn't do last year in the NL Championship Series. The Cardinals won that series in six games, as Ramirez was ineffective as he played with fractured ribs.

Ramirez was a late addition to the lineup Saturday after sitting out the previous four games because of an irritated right shoulder. He singled, walked and scored a run in his two plate appearances, but was replaced in the top of the third inning at shortstop by Miguel Rojas.

Ramirez felt tightness in his left calf, the Dodgers said.

Manager Don Mattingly said he was uncertain of the severity of Ramirez's injury, but that he expected to know more Sunday. Ramirez declined to speak to reporters.

As well as the Dodgers have played without Ramirez, Mattingly made clear he thinks they need Ramirez, particularly to make a run in October.

"When you get to the playoffs, good pitching gets pretty much everybody out," Mattingly said. "You only have a couple guys on every team that hit good pitching. That's why the scores get so low."

Ramirez wasn't the only player to go down in the second inning. Utilityman Justin Turner did, too.

Turner is expected to land on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.

Turner was removed from the game immediately after he drove in the first run in the Dodgers' six-run inning.

"Every team has to deal with this stuff, but Turner has been extremely valuable for us," starting pitcher Zack Greinke said. "There's not many guys that can play all the infield spots and still put up quality at-bats. His at-bats are even above quality, I think. So far this year, I'd put him in the top tier of utility guys in the game. You just can't replace that."

Turner was particularly valuable in the absence of third baseman Juan Uribe, who returned from the disabled list Thursday.

Uribe was put on the disabled list May 21. Since then, Turner has started 22 games at third base and batted .365.

Even with Uribe back, Turner was expected to be a frequent presence in the lineup, as Mattingly said he didn't want to overuse the 35-year-old Uribe.

"We'll still be careful," Mattingly said. "I'm sure we'll bring somebody that gives us flexibility at short and third. We're going to have the flexibility to not throw Papi out there every day."

Possible replacements for Turner include Erisbel Arruebarrena and Carlos Triunfel, who are with triple-A Albuquerque.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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