He took a seat in the Dodgers’ dugout and the fans cheered.
He jogged to shallow left field to stretch and the fans roared.
He stepped into the on-deck circle and the fans rose to their feet, many repeatedly chanting his name.
Merely being Manny Ramirez was enough Friday to endear the Dodgers’ newest acquisition to the fans.
It wasn’t enough to save the Dodgers from a bullpen that couldn’t hold a lead, and a ninth-inning rally fizzled when Ramirez grounded into a double play during a 2-1 defeat against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
Ramirez had a chance to be the hero in his Dodgers debut when he came to the plate in the ninth against closer Brandon Lyon with Russell Martin on first base and nobody out after a leadoff single.
“It looked like it was all set up for something spectacular,” Manager Joe Torre said.
But with the sellout crowd of 55,239 on its feet, Ramirez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play before Jeff Kent popped up to second baseman Orlando Hudson to end the game.
“It was great, man,” Ramirez said of the buzzing crowd. “It’s like Boston with the people cheering for you. . . . He made a good pitch. You have to give him credit.”
Arizona tagged reliever Chan Ho Park for two seventh-inning runs to increase its lead over the Dodgers to three games in the National League West.
Tony Clark hit a solo homer off Park and Stephen Drew hit a double on the only pitch thrown by Joe Beimel to score Chris Snyder from second base with Arizona’s second run.
The bullpen’s inability to preserve a lead was nearly as much of an oddity as the sight of the Dodgers’ left fielder. Wearing No. 99, with dreadlocks that descended below his shoulder (for now), Ramirez went two for four with a pair of singles.
Acquired Thursday from the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-team, six-player trade, Ramirez generated plenty of excitement, with 12,000 tickets for Friday’s game sold since the trade for Ramirez was announced.
“The fans received me with open arms. It was unbelievable,” Ramirez said. “I was like a kid today, I was so nervous.”
The affection showered upon Ramirez on Friday was unconditional. He was cheered before and after he grounded out to shortstop Drew in the second inning on the first pitch he saw as a Dodger.
In his second at-bat, with two out in the fourth, Ramirez stroked a tough-hop single past Drew.
“It was great, man,” Ramirez said. “I’m just glad to get my first hit out of the way.”
Matt Kemp gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the sixth with a run-scoring double off Randy Johnson that extended his career-high hitting streak to 19 games.
The lead didn’t last long. Clark’s homer to straightaway center off Park in the seventh inning ended an eight-game streak in which Dodgers pitchers had held their opponents without a homer, the team’s longest stretch since May 1996.
Park’s inability to hold the lead cost Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw a chance at his second consecutive victory after failing to record a win in his first nine major league starts. Kershaw pitched six shutout innings, holding the Diamondbacks to four hits.