Reds fall on Manny's pinch-hit slam

Reds fall on Manny's pinch-hit slam

LOS ANGELES -- It was a made-for-Hollywood moment for Dodgers star Manny Ramirez. For the 56,000 raucous fans gathered in Chavez Ravine on Wednesday night, the Reds followed their script.

Used as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth, Ramirez vanquished the Reds with a 6-2 loss by drilling Nick Masset's first-pitch sinker for a grand slam.

"That's stuff I had seen out of Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You go home seeing what you came to see."

To set the scene, it was already Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night. Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who had a strong night in the making, issued back-to-back one-out walks to James Loney and Matt Kemp and allowed a sharply lined Russell Martin single. It was pitcher Chad Billingsley's turn to bat.

Cue Ramirez, who was not starting because of a bruised left hand that was struck on Tuesday night by a Homer Bailey fastball.

The fans euphorically cheered when they saw Ramirez put a helmet on, grab his bat and emerge from the dugout. But they had to wait with a little suspense.

Baker summoned Masset from the bullpen with the score tied at 2-2 to take over for Arroyo, who was Ramirez's former teammate with the Red Sox. They had never previously faced each other in a game.

"I played with the guy long enough that I probably have an insight on his mind [more] than anybody else here for sure," Arroyo said. "But it's Dusty's call. It's his job, not mine. ... I feel like I would have got a double-play ball and we would have been out of the inning. That's the way you think about it.

"I don't think anybody was worried about his hand," he said. "I know Manny. He'll take a day off if he gets hit like that even if his hand is perfect. Don't ever think when he goes to the plate that Manny Ramirez is hurt, because he's not. If he was, he wouldn't be standing in the box."

Masset's first pitch was left over the heart of the plate and Ramirez jumped all over it. The fans knew it was gone on contact and erupted.

The ball traveled to the left-field seats and into the section appropriately called "Mannywood."

"I had my best double-play guy in there to try and get a ground ball," Baker said. "His sinker didn't sink."

"That's pretty much where I wanted to put the ball," Masset said. "It just didn't sink the way it normally does. It was middle-in. I was trying to jam him, get a ground ball and get out of the inning. I basically tried to go at him with my best stuff and it didn't work out. I thought Bronson pitched a really good game. It's my job to come in there and execute and get the job done. I failed."

Planes at LAX would have had trouble competing with the decibel level at Dodger Stadium. It wasn't just loud. It was deafening.

"It's about as dramatic as you can get -- a grand slam on your own Bobblehead Night," Baker said. "First he was in the lineup and then they scratched him. He came in, saw one pitch and hit a grand slam. You don't get more dramatic than that."

Ramirez was summoned for two curtain calls at the top of the dugout steps.

"They threw me a good pitch to hit and I drove it," Ramirez said of his first career pinch-hit homer. "It was great, one of the best moments of my career. I'm just happy it happened here. It was kind of crazy, but I loved it."

Arroyo (10-9) was charged with five earned runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings with four walks and eight strikeouts. He had six strikeouts through his first three innings.

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Joey Votto ripped an RBI double to left field for the first of his three hits in the game. Los Angeles tied the game in the bottom of the first with Andre Ethier's homer to left-center field with two outs. It ended Arroyo's 16-inning scoreless streak.

Self-inflicted mistakes hurt the Reds before Ramirez could. In the Dodgers' fourth with a runner on first, Loney blooped a ball near the left-field line that Laynce Nix missed with a sliding catch attempt. The ball got away and rolled to the fence for an RBI triple.

In the fifth, Jerry Hairston Jr. was on second base with a leadoff double, but was caught stealing third with no outs. Baker said Hairston was going on his own.

"If you're going to steal third with no outs, you have to make sure you make it," Baker said.

Arroyo also didn't get a sacrifice bunt attempt down in the fifth.

"With a club of their caliber, you can't make mistakes like that," Baker said.

In the sixth, when they had runners on first and third and no outs on Billingsley (10-5), they scored just one run when Willy Taveras came home on a wild pitch.

Before the game, Baker had one modest hope.

"The slogan today is one-for-L.A. We don't want to be 0-for-L.A," he said behind his office desk.

Ramirez crushed that wish into oblivion with one swing. The Reds are now winless over four seasons at Los Angeles, with a 0-12 record at Dodger Stadium since 2006. Somewhere at his home in New Mexico, Brandon Claussen can brag that he was the last Reds pitcher to beat the Dodgers in L.A. -- on July 28, 2005.

The Reds lost no ground on the first-place Cardinals, who have also lost three straight, and remain 5 1/2 games back. But at 44-50, Cincinnati is a season-high six games below .500.

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