Walk-off loss spoils Hanley's strong LA debut

Walk-off loss spoils Hanley's strong LA debut

Walk-off loss spoils Hanley's strong LA debut
ST. LOUIS -- Newest Dodger Hanley Ramirez could wind up at shortstop, displacing the injured Dee Gordon, who last year displaced Rafael Furcal, who beat the Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Furcal's two-out flare single to left in the bottom of the 12th inning off Jamey Wright scored pinch-running pitcher Joe Kelly from second base for a 3-2 Cardinals walk-off win over his former team, ruining Ramirez's Dodgers debut and wasting a strong start from Aaron Harang.

Ramirez didn't make a big difference on the scoreboard, despite going 2-for-4 with a triple, walk, RBI single and a run scored. The Dodgers had only one hit over the final five innings.

"Hanley's legit," said manager Don Mattingly, a former star who can recognize a current one. "The guy can play. I think at the end of the day this is going to be a good trade. His body's live. The ball jumps off the bat. We got a good player today."

Mattingly wasn't around to see the disappointing finish, having been ejected in the bottom of the 10th inning. While bringing in new reliever Randy Choate, who also came over from the Marlins in the Ramirez trade, Mattingly complained about ball and strike calls from earlier at-bats and was ejected by plate umpire Jeff Kellogg. It was Mattingly's fifth ejection of the season.

Afterward, Mattingly couldn't stop himself from explaining why he was ejected (and why he'll probably be fined again by former mentor Joe Torre's office).

"I just got frustrated. The strike zone was horrible, going down to the last batter," Mattingly said. "Furcal does a check swing and the ball is right down the middle and it's a ball. I guess I showed him [Kellogg] up for turning around [while on the mound]. Maybe it was too hot for him. Maybe they should go to lighter equipment."

For the third consecutive night of the series the first-pitch temperature was in triple digits, but for the first time Ramirez started at third base and hit fifth in the order behind Andre Ethier.

Ramirez made things happen from his first at-bat off Kyle Lohse in the second inning, launching a towering fly to center. Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay took a drifting, indirect route to the ball, which bounced off the fence and Ramirez had a stand-up triple. James Loney's sacrifice fly scored Ramirez.

"I thought it was a popup to center and it keeps going and going," Ramirez said. "I never thought I got it. I know when I got it."

Harang gave the lead right back in the bottom of the second with a walk to Allen Craig, a single by Yadier Molina that put runners on the corners and a double-play grounder by David Freese that scored Craig.

The Cardinals took the lead in the fifth on a leadoff double into the right-field corner by Freese, who went to third on Skip Schumaker's groundout and scored on Lohse's sacrifice fly to right.

But Ramirez tied the game in the sixth when he cashed in Mark Ellis' leadoff double with a two-out single up the middle on a 3-2 pitch.

"I'm feeling good lately and feeling strong at the plate," Ramirez said.

The Cardinals nearly won the game in the bottom of the eighth. Harang, working on a two-hitter, walked Schumaker to lead off the inning. Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso bunted Schumaker to second. Furcal walked on the 3-2 pitch that infuriated Mattingly. Scott Elbert relieved Harang and walked Jay to load the bases for Matt Holliday.

Mattingly brought on Ronald Belisario, who got Holliday to line into an inning-ending double-play to second baseman Ellis, who stepped on second to erase Furcal.

Although Furcal got the game-winning hit, the rally started with a one-out walk of pinch-hitter Lance Berkman, who came into the game with a 1.780 OPS against Wright. With two outs, Matt Carpenter's hit-and-run single would have sent Kelly to third, but the pitcher tripped over second base and scrambled back to the bag, setting the stage for Furcal.

Left fielder Tony Gwynn, inserted for defensive purposes five innings earlier, charged the ball and tried a do-or-die short-hop but came up empty as Kelly scored.

"With a man on second base I just tried to choke up a bit and put the ball play," Furcal said.

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