Watching from the on-deck circle as Hanley Ramirez was struck by a fastball for the second time Sunday night, Adrian Gonzalez's initial instinct was to exact revenge in the most dramatic way possible.
"Your first emotion is to hit a home run and stand on home plate and do all of that stuff," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez immediately collected himself.
"The minute you try to hit a home run, you're just going to get yourself out," he said.
Gonzalez went on to deliver what might be the Dodgers' most significant hit of the season: a tiebreaking, two-out, ninth-inning single against flame-throwing closer Trevor Rosenthal that was the difference in a sweep-averting 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ramirez, who was removed from the game when a 98-mph fastball hit him on his left hand, said his spirits were lifted by Gonzalez's late-game heroics.
"I was so happy we won the game," Ramirez said.
Ramirez was also relieved. X-rays on his hand were negative.
Still, it was clear some of the bad blood that existed between the teams last year in the National League Championship Series remains.
Ramirez's ribs were fractured in the first game of that NLCS, which the Cardinals won.
Joe Kelly, the same pitcher who struck Ramirez last year, hit Yasiel Puig on his left hand Saturday. Puig didn't play in the series finale Sunday.
Ramirez was nailed twice more in the latest confrontation between the Dodgers and Cardinals, the first time in the fourth inning on the shoulder by a 99-mph fastball from starter Carlos Martinez.
"It's one thing pitching inside and it's one thing pitching inside carelessly," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, it's showing that they don't care they hit him — not on purpose, but they don't care if they hit him. They hit Hanley last year, they hit Puig yesterday, they hit Hanley twice today. It's almost like, 'We're going to throw the ball inside, if we hit you, we hit you, if we don't, we don't.' Guys like that, there comes a point where it's enough."
That pitch by Martinez that struck Ramirez prompted an immediate response from the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, who started the bottom of the inning by drilling Matt Holliday.
Considering both benches were warned at the time, Gonzalez found it curious home plate umpire Ed Hickox didn't eject Rosenthal when his fastball tailed into Ramirez's hand.
Gonzalez sarcastically added, "Thank God he didn't throw him out because I was able to come up and get a hit against him."
The hit was set up by catcher A.J. Ellis, who led off the ninth with a double off Rosenthal to left-center.
"It was good to do something offensively for a change," said Ellis, who is batting a modest .211.
Ellis was replaced on the basepaths by Miguel Rojas, only for Justin Turner and Dee Gordon to strike out. Ramirez was hit. With pinch-runner Drew Butera standing on first base instead of Ramirez, Gonzalez stepped into the batter's box.
"For me, the toughest was to not let my emotions take over," Gonzalez said.
The Dodgers' satisfaction went beyond the payback for pain inflicted on Ramirez.
The victory moved the Dodgers back into a virtual tie with the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West. Including the four days in the All-Star break, they hadn't won a game in a week.
They had dropped the first two games of this series, scoring a combined four runs in those games.
"We didn't want to get out of here being swept," Gonzalez said.
They finished this contest with 11 hits. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who were previously scuffling at the plate, each drove in a run. Juan Uribe, who was three for four, drove in the other.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times