Red Sox slug their way past Manny

Red Sox slug their way past Manny

BOSTON -- The Fenway Park crowd wasn't sure what to do with Manny Ramirez's return Friday night, but the home-team hitters knew exactly what to do: swing away.

The best Ramirez could get was a single, but three Red Sox (two of them former Dodgers) homered in a 10-6 pounding of the Dodgers in their Interleague Play opener.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

As the designated hitter, Ramirez went 1-for-5 with a run but two called strikeouts -- one to end the game with the tying run on deck -- in his first game against the club he helped lead to two World Series championships. The loud crowd was on its feet for his first at-bat, supporters and detractors trying to drown each other out as flashbulbs popped away.

"The reaction was mixed. I thought it was more thank-you cheers than the other," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said on behalf of Ramirez, who maintained his media blackout. "I was satisfied with that. I know what he did to me all those years [when I was with the Yankees], and without Manny, they wouldn't have those two banners. A lot of people were on their feet applauding. I looked around. These are a lot of his fans. The boos always try to drown out the cheers. I thought it was more cheers."

Ramirez couldn't counter the Red Sox's thunder, as former Dodgers J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre joined David Ortiz with home runs. Beltre hit his in the decisive seven-run fifth inning, when the first eight Boston batters reached base. The first three hitters in the fifth belonged to losing starter Carlos Monasterios, who was charged with six runs in four-plus innings, including first-inning homers by Ortiz and Drew, the latter awarded through instant replay after umpires originally called it a double high off the left-field wall.

Although he seemed a subplot to Ramirez, it is Monasterios in particular -- and rookie starting pitching in general -- that have the Dodgers deeply concerned. In their past two turns through the rotation, Monasterios and fellow rookie John Ely have drawn losses.

With Vicente Padilla returning from the disabled list Saturday and a day off Monday, Torre said it was possible that Monasterios could be bounced from the rotation. Ely -- winless since May 22 -- might not be far behind, with Chad Billingsley likely to return from the disabled list later this month.

"We're going to have to look and determine what we do this time around," said Torre. "We have to shake it out and see what happens. What happens tomorrow will be an indicator for how we line up. We have to watch Padilla and see how he comes out of it. Yeah, we're obviously playing a couple good teams [in the Angels and Yankees] when we get back to California and we have to try to put our Sunday best out there."

Monasterios, the Rule 5 Draft pick, is showing why Torre treated him with kid gloves the first two months of the season and reluctantly moved him into the rotation only after Padilla's injury and Charlie Haeger's ineffectiveness.

Monasterios allowed one home run when carefully used in 11 relief appearances covering 19 1/3 innings. But in six starts covering 26 2/3 innings, he's been taken deep seven times, five of them in his past three starts. The recurring trend is that Monasterios falls behind in the count, then serves up a hittable strike. Ortiz hit a 3-1 pitch, Drew a 2-0 pitch.

"He just didn't throw enough strikes," said Torre. "He got himself in trouble."

Monasterios -- after allowing 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings his past two starts -- said he isn't worried about being taken out of the rotation.

"I wouldn't call it struggling, but I'm making a lot of mistake pitches, and that's why I have to pay," he said. "Not to take credit away from their great hitters, but I'm making a lot more mistakes than before."

Monasterios allowed three runs in the first inning, escaped a bases-loaded mess in the third and didn't get an out in the fifth.

"It's the inconsistency of being able to use all your pitches against a quality lineup," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. "Any pitcher, with an above-average lineup, you can't pitch behind and get by with mistakes."

The trouble started by Monasterios was turned into a complete mess by reliever Ramon Troncoso, who failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the fifth. Beltre's two-run homer over the Green Monster was included in the four runs Troncoso allowed that proved to be the difference in the game.

Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, given a 3-0 first-inning lead in his Major League debut, let the Dodgers tie the game in the third, allowing a double to Ronnie Belliard, an RBI triple to Matt Kemp, an RBI grounder by Russell Martin and committing a two-base error that allowed Belliard to score.

"Our offense did such a good job. When you look at the game, [Doubront] gets a win, we get the win," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "But I thought he held his poise very well."

Doubront also allowed a two-run single to James Loney in the sixth before yielding to the Boston bullpen, which allowed Garret Anderson's ninth-inning homer. One-out singles by Kemp and Russell Martin, then a sprawling stop by first baseman Kevin Youkilis on Andre Ethier's smash for a force, brought up Ramirez, who was caught looking for the final out by reliever Daniel Bard.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.