PHOENIX – The Dodgers showed something on this nine-game trip, which ended Wednesday night with a 7-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in 14 innings.
They are for real.
They visited three of their division rivals and won all three series, taking two of three games in Colorado and San Francisco before sweeping the Diamondbacks.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 7, Arizona 5
Their most recent was the longest and most dramatic. A.J. Ellis’ two-out single in the ninth inning drove in Jerry Hairston Jr. to tie the game, 5-5, and push it into extra innings. The Dodgers won the game five innings later, when Hanley Ramirez and Ellis belted solo home runs off Josh Collmenter.
“What’s happening to us right now is incredible,” Ramirez said. “Everything is there. We don’t panic, even down a couple runs.”
The win was the Dodgers’ 15th in 18 games and improved their record to 45-45. The last time they were at .500 was on April 30, when they were 13-13.
“I didn’t even realize we were at .500,” Ellis said. “That’s awesome.”
If the Dodgers were in any other division, they would still be far removed from first place. In the National League West, their record leaves them only 1 1/2 back of the top team, the free-falling Diamondbacks.
“I really felt before we got in here that we had got back ourselves back into it, where we were in the race,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “This has just been icing on the cake.”
The Dodgers will host the Colorado Rockies in a four-game series that starts Thursday, after which most of them will take four days off for the All-Star break.
“We might be the only team in baseball that’s not 100% looking forward to the All-Star break,” Ellis said.
The midseason intermission will likely be welcomed by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who made the worst of his 18 major league starts Wednesday night.
Ryu pitched only five innings, which tied a season-low. He was charged with five runs, which matched his season high.
Something to consider: Ryu went from pitching once a week in South Korea to once every five days here.
Ryu, however, denied that fatigue factored into his performance.
“I think I’ve adjusted pretty quickly,” he said. “I don’t think there are any issues.”
Ryu was particularly shaky in the first inning, when he served up a solo home run to Aaron Hill that put the Dodgers behind, 1-0. Later in the inning, he walked both Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado.
The Diamondbacks doubled their lead to 2-0 in the third inning, when A.J. Pollock tripled to right-center and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hill.
The Dodgers took back a run in the fourth inning. A walk by Ramirez and hits by Ellis and Andre Ethier loaded the bases. Scott Van Slyke drove in Ramirez to cut the deficit to 2-1. Nick Punto popped up to second base and Ryu lined out to end the inning.
Ramirez moved the Dodgers ahead in the fifth inning, 3-2, as Ramirez doubled to drive in Mark Ellis and Yasiel Puig. A.J. Ellis and Ethier drew consecutive walks to load the bases with one out, but the Dodgers couldn’t add any more runs, as Van Slyke grounded into a double play.
The double play proved costly.
Paul Goldschmidt doubled in two runs in the bottom half of the inning to push the Diamondbacks back in front, 4-3. Goldschmidt scored on a hit by Prado to extend their lead to 5-3.
Adrian Gonzalez reduced the Dodgers’ deficit to 5-4 with a solo home run in the seventh inning. The home run was Gonzalez’s 14th of the season and fourth of the trip.
The Dodgers tied the game in the ninth inning against the out-of-shape and out-of-form Heath Bell. Gonzalez drew a two-out walk and was replaced by pinch runner Jerry Hairston. Ramirez followed with a single up the middle. A.J. Ellis singled to left-center field and tied the game, 5-5.
Rookie reliever Chris Withrow pitched the next three innings and held the Diamondbacks to a hit and two walks.
“He was the real hero of the game,” A.J. Ellis said.
Kenley Jansen pitched the last two innings and was credited with the victory. Brandon League was warming up in the bullpen to pitch in the 14th inning until Ramirez broke the stalemate.
“He’s been amazing,” Mattingly said of Ramirez. “I think we see a guy that’s been kind of on a mission all year. He’s a tough out. You can tell by how they pitch him. They want no part of him.”
Injuries have limited Ramirez to 35 games, but he already has eight home runs. He is batting .409, which is higher than even Yasiel Puig, who dropped to .394 after a 1-for-7 night.
“He came back from the WBC a totally different person,” A.J. Ellis said of Ramirez. “He came back and he had that passion to play again. He had that passion to be on the field and be a leader in the middle of the diamond. It’s been consistent day in and day out. All night tonight, even in the extra innings, he was rallying and pushing us in the dugout to keep going. He’s as a special a hitter as I’ve ever played with. He’s a big reason we’re where we’re at."