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Hanley's hot bat bolstering Dodgers' lineup

Hanley's hot bat bolstering Dodgers' lineup

Hanley's hot bat bolstering Dodgers' lineup

LOS ANGELES -- The middle of the Dodgers' lineup is much more formidable with Hanley Ramirez locked in at the plate.

Ramirez hit .500 (11-for-22) with two doubles, three home runs and seven RBIs over the last six games of a nine-game road trip that ended Sunday in San Diego. The shortstop homered twice over the weekend against the Padres and finally looks healthy after thumb surgery and a strained hamstring limited him to four games through the season's first two months.

The Dodgers, third to last in the National League in runs scored, desperately need continued production from Ramirez.

"It's huge, because it's a force in your lineup," manager Don Mattingly said before Monday's game against the Giants. "He's not just a guy that can hit a little bit, he's a guy that's dangerous. He's a pure hitter. It's huge to have him in that lineup every day."

Adrian Gonzalez has been consistent all season and rookie Yasiel Puig has provided a power bat since being called up two weeks ago. But Ramirez might be the key to fixing the club's offensive woes.

"It sure is a lot easier for me to write a lineup," Mattingly said.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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