Although the Los Angeles Dodgers lost their first game in the wake of Manny Ramirez(notes) being suspended for using a banned drug, the offense proved it can still generate plenty of runs without the star slugger.
After suffering their first loss in a week, the Dodgers look to bounce back Friday night when they open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.
The sports world was hit with stunning news Thursday when Major League Baseball announced the suspension of Ramirez for 50 games for a drug violation, reportedly involving the banned substance HCG.
As one of baseball’s top all-time hitters, Ramirez was instrumental to the Dodgers (21-9) red-hot start.
The 12-time All-Star was batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBIs to lead a Los Angeles offense that ranks second in the majors in runs (170) and first in on-base percentage (.378).
In their first game since Ramirez’s suspension, the Dodgers lost to Washington 11-9 on Thursday to snap a seven-game winning streak and drop their first game at Chavez Ravine. Los Angeles set a modern major league record Wednesday night with a 13-0 start at home.
The offense still looked strong without Ramirez, as the Dodgers jumped out to a 6-0 lead after one inning and pounded out 14 hits.
“Manny’s a big part of our team. But as far as the team goes, this is a tremendous opportunity for us to prove to people that we’re not just Manny and 24 other guys,” said injured first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz(notes), who played with Ramirez on Boston’s 2004 World Series team.
“That team is very good,” he told the Giants’ official Web site. “They have a lot of young guys who can hit and play the game. In a way, it’d be very unfair to say that they’re going to be a less competitive team (without Ramirez). I think they’re going to keep battling and use this as motivation.”
The Giants (14-13) defeated Colorado 8-3 on Thursday behind Molina’s first multihomer game since July 22 against Washington.
Billingsley gave up two runs and four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings of a 7-3 win over the Padres on Sunday, as the Dodgers improved to 6-0 in the right-hander’s starts.
Billingsley is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA in four starts against the Giants since the start of last season and set to make his third start of the year against them.
He gave up one run and five hits with 11 strikeouts in seven innings of an 11-1 home win over the Giants on April 13 and allowed three runs and eight hits while striking out eight in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory in San Francisco on April 28, but was not a factor in the decision.
After allowing 10 runs in nine innings in losing his first two starts, Zito has given up three runs in 20 1-3 innings in his last three, but has received just three total runs of support in those games.
On Sunday, the left-hander scattered two hits and one walk in seven shutout innings in a 1-0, 10-inning victory over Colorado.
Zito will be making his third start of the season against the Dodgers on Friday. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner gave up six runs in five innings of a 7-2 loss at Dodger Stadium on April 16 and allowed three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 home win over Los Angeles on April 27.
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