MIAMI — There's nothing good about losing a slugger such as Manny Ramirez, no matter the reason.
But the loss can be a whole lot easier to take when you have someone like Juan Pierre to replace him, something Pierre proved again Friday night, when his two-run seventh-inning single broke a 3-3 tie and propelled the Dodgers to their third consecutive win, a 6-4 decision over the Florida Marlins.
"I try to stay ready in case something happens. I never would have guessed this would happen," said Pierre, who is hitting .424 with six runs and six runs batted in in eight starts since Ramirez was suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy. "Right now I'm getting the opportunity to play. I'm grateful for it and I'm trying to make the most of it."
He put an exclamation point on Friday's performance by scoring the final run of the night after walking with one out in the ninth. The Dodgers' first two runs came on back-to-back homers by Casey Blake and Xavier Paul in the sixth -- and each was significant, Blake's because it was his team-leading eighth of the season and Paul's because it was his first as a major leaguer.
The Dodgers, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit, then had to survive another shaky outing by closer Jonathan Broxton, who walked two batters before retiring pinch-hitter Ross Gload with the tying runs in scoring position to earn his ninth save.
"This ballclub sort of found something in Philly," said Manager Joe Torre, whose team won two of three from the World Series champion Phillies before coming to Miami. "In fact I told them that before the game: You learned a lot about yourselves."
Friday's game also featured a 17-minute rain delay in the top of the ninth and the ejections of Florida Manager Fredi Gonzalez and second baseman Dan Uggla in the eighth after first-base umpire Ed Rapuano ruled that Uggla tried to bunt a pitch that hit him.
When Eric Milton makes his first big league start in more than two seasons tonight it will give the Dodgers four left-handers in their rotation. The last time that happened was September 1986, when they started Fernando Valenzuela, Dennis Powell, Rick Honeycutt and Jerry Reuss in succession.
How long ago was that? Honeycutt is now the Dodgers' pitching coach and Valenzuela is part of the team's Spanish-language broadcast team.
"It's certainly not ideal to have four left-handers in the starting rotation," Torre said. "There would be some managers that would kill for two. I just like [Milton's] makeup."
A nonroster invitee to spring training, Milton went 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA in seven starts for triple-A Albuquerque. He takes Jeff Weaver's spot in the rotation, with Weaver going back to the bullpen.
On the mend
Opening-day starter Hiroki Kuroda, on the disabled list since April 7 because of a strained muscle in his side, threw a 36-pitch bullpen session and Torre said he could pitch a simulated game when the Dodgers return home Monday. . . . Right-hander Jason Schmidt, who threw well in his first minor league rehab start Tuesday, is scheduled to pitch again Sunday for Class-A Inland Empire. Schmidt, recovering from shoulder surgery, hasn't pitched in the majors in 23 months. . . . Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, on the DL because of a strained elbow, has begun throwing lightly off the mound at Dodger Stadium. There is no timetable for his return.