The Titanic is rising from the ocean floor. The Dodgers are back in contention.
The Dodgers won for the seventh time in eight games Saturday night, a ninth-inning single by A.J. Ellis driving in Hanley Ramirez for a walk-off, 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of a packed house at Dodger Stadium.
The most expensive team in baseball history remains in last place in the National League West but is now within five games of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks and two other teams ahead of them in the division lost.
“I guess you can say it was another perfect day for us,” Adrian Gonzalez said.
The day was particularly perfect for Ramirez, who was three for four with a home run and a double to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
But what was an exhilarating triumph could have easily been a crushing defeat.
The Dodgers blew a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning, as Yasiel Puig allowed Michael Young to reach second base when he mishandled what appeared to be a routine single to right field off closer Kenley Jansen. Young reached third base on a groundout by Chase Utley.
Jansen forced Jimmy Rollins to fly out to center field and Young initially appeared as if he wouldn’t test Matt Kemp’s strong arm. But Kemp’s throw to home plate was up the first-base line and Ellis’ attempt to control it was futile, providing Young with the necessary window to dash home and tie the score, 3-3.
Ramirez led off the bottom of the inning with his third hit of the game, a sharp single to center field. Kemp struck out but Andre Ethier drew a walk, advancing Ramirez into scoring position. Ellis won the game with a single off Justin De Fratus through a hole at second base.
“It was a fastball,” Ellis said. “I wasn't really expecting it because I had two strikes and I knew his go-to pitch was a slider. But luckily I got to go up against him the other day and was able to time him.”
Phillies starter Cliff Lee couldn’t stop Ramirez earlier in the game and third base coach Tim Wallach certainly wasn’t going to stop him in the ninth. Ramirez blew past Wallach’s stop sign and scored just ahead of the throw to the plate.
“I was ready to score,” Ramirez said.
Earlier in the week, Hanley Ramirez was compared by Manager Don Mattingly to Manny Ramirez. On this night, Ramirez elicited memories of Jose Canseco.
Ramirez hit a towering three-run home run in the first inning that landed on an elevated television camera platform behind the -field wall, even farther than where Canseco hit a monster grand slam in the first game of the 1988 World Series. The ball traveled an estimated 439 feet.
The home run gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead, offsetting Utley’s solo home run in the top of the first inning.
“Right now, we’re going off Hanley and Puig,” Gonzalez said.
The home run was Ramirez’s sixth of the season. Of the six, five were hit during his current 11-game hitting streak. Ramirez is 20 for 40 in that span.
Puig was one for four.
“When and if they slow down, that’s when Matt and myself are going to pick it up,” Gonzalez said.
Ramirez and Puig are part of a formidable five-man grouping in the middle of the order that also includes former All-Stars Gonzalez, Kemp and Ethier.
“The great thing about having a lineup that deep is that when one guys struggles, there are two or three guys doing well,” Gonzalez said.