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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.

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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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