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Manny's injury sets tone as streak ends

Manny's injury sets tone as streak ends

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LOS ANGELES -- Not to be outdone by Andre Ethier's little finger fractured in a batting practice accident, Manny Ramirez was a game-time scratch on Wednesday night after injuring his little toe in a training-room mishap.

"We're into little things," said manager Joe Torre.

Ramirez returned from a trip to the hospital with a clean X-ray, only to strike out pinch-hitting as the Dodgers' nine-game win streak was snapped in a 10-5 loss to the first-place Padres on Wednesday night, dropping them to two games back of the division leaders into third place, rather than the first-place tie they'd hoped for.

Ramirez seemed back to normal after the game -- not speaking with reporters as he walked past without a limp. The explanation from Torre on how his $20 million left fielder injured the little toe on his left foot was just as bizarre as the way Ethier wound up on the disabled list.

"It was a freak thing," said Torre. "To get his legs loose, he swings them and he happened to hit a table with his toe. He got an X-ray and everything is negative, thank goodness. It was just a freak thing."

Two outfielders injured, neither in the game. The Dodgers should put Matt Kemp in protective custody.

And they might want to give serious thought to reviving the four-man starting rotation. Ramon Ortiz took another stab at the fifth-starter's slot, couldn't protect a 3-1 lead and couldn't get out of the fourth inning.

"He wasn't good tonight," Torre said of Ortiz, who was charged with five runs in 3 1/3 innings as his ERA hit 6.30.

Dodgers pitchers had posted a 1.89 ERA during the nine-game win streak, not allowing more than three runs in any of the games. San Diego had scored only four runs in last weekend's three-game series.

The good news for Torre is that there's a scheduled off-day on Monday, so Ortiz will be skipped and Torre won't need to pick the next fifth-starter candidate until a week from Saturday. To be on the fifth-starter schedule, injured knuckleballer Charlie Haeger pitched five innings in a rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday night. Haeger is 0-4 as the fifth starter.

Another candidate is Rule 5 rookie Carlos Monasterios, who pitched three scoreless innings of relief in his first outing in eight days on Wednesday. Monasterios started one game earlier this month, but Torre has been reluctant to give him another chance because he expected Ortiz to pitch deeper into the game. Instead, Ortiz has pitched a total of 7 1/3 innings in his two starts. Monasterios' ERA is 1.90.

The Dodgers swept the Padres three games in San Diego last weekend, when Adrian Gonzalez went 1-for-11, and it was payback time in this game, as Gonzalez homered and drove in a career-high six runs with three hits, while Will Venable went 4-for-5 with four runs and was a home run shy of the first cycle in San Diego history.

Gonzalez came into the game 6-for-9 against Ortiz (who allowed him a two-run single) and is now 2-for-2 with two homers off Ramon Troncoso, whom Torre called on in the fourth inning hoping for two ground balls, only for Troncoso to serve up two long balls, back-to-back to Gonzalez and Chase Headley.

"I struggle with guys that have big differential in speeds, and his speed differential from his fastball to his offspeed pitches are pretty close, so that makes it easy as far as timing to just get it ready, recognize then take your swing," Gonzalez said about his success against Ortiz. "You don't have to worry about fastball, 90, changeup, 75, now you got 15 miles. He's a guy that because he doesn't have that big differential, I shouldn't say it's easy, but it's more comfortable."

The Dodgers offensively got a home run and three RBIs from Casey Blake for the second consecutive game, a double that extended Russell Martin's hitting streak to 14 games and two hits and two RBIs from rookie Xavier Paul, inserted just before game time when Ramirez was hurt.

Ramirez returned from a local hospital in time to bat against former teammate Jon Garland in the fifth inning with two outs and two on, the Dodgers trailing 8-4, but he struck out. He came into the game 15-for-30 with three home runs lifetime against Garland.

"Obviously, tonight was one of those days," Torre said.

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

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