Dodgers rout Reds after Manny scare

Dodgers rout Reds after Manny scare

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers led by eight runs after three innings, but the night's outcome was in doubt until an hour later when word came from the Huntington Hospital radiology department that X-rays on Manny Ramirez's left hand were negative.

And that news was just as positive as the 12-3 win over the Reds, as Randy Wolf pitching into the eighth inning, as Rafael Furcal (four RBIs) and Matt Kemp slugging home runs.

Having already lost Ramirez for 50 games this year because of something he did, they dread the thought of losing the dreadlocked one because of something opposing pitcher Homer Bailey did, his 95-mph fastball on a 1-1 pitch nailing Ramirez on the side of his left hand as he led off the bottom of the third inning.

So while it's possible the only Manny that fans will see Wednesday night is his bobblehead giveaway -- he's officially listed as day to day -- the Dodgers can breathe a sigh of relief while the rest of the league cannot.

They are 26 games above .500 for the first time since 1991, have their best record at this point since 1974 and with a four-game win streak have restored their National League West lead to nine games for the first time since June 18. Against the Reds, they have won 19 of their past 22, including 11 straight at Dodger Stadium, with the series finale on Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night.

The Dodgers led this game, 2-0, after the first inning, 4-1 after the second and 9-1 after the third.

"Any time you get kind of a no-brainer win, it feels good," said Wolf, who rebounded from a 12th no-decision with his fifth consecutive quality start.

Even though the Dodgers are on another roll, his pitching deep into the game was good timing.

In fact, other than the win and the good news on Ramirez, manager Joe Torre said the best part of the game was not needing to use relievers Jonathan Broxton and Ramon Troncoso, each having pitched the three previous days.

Wolf scattered four hits and was charged with two runs in his first home win of the year. Having repeatedly encountered problems in the first inning, Wolf tweaked his delivery warming up for the game and through the first two innings, adding a hesitation with his leg lift to keep his weight back and prevent rushing.

"I went 1-2-3 in the first inning, so it must have helped," said the left-hander. "I tend to rush in the beginning of a game and that makes me spin off and it makes the ball cut. Doing it in the bullpen helps me keep my delivery toward the plate. I did it a few times later in the game, too."

Wolf is only 5-4 on the season, even though he now leads the club in starts and innings pitched. His 3.45 ERA is well below his career average (4.20). Statistically, aside from the won-loss record, he's having his best season since 2002.

"It's been a weird year," Wolf said. "It's July 21 and I hadn't had a home win yet. You realize how long it's been, it's frustrating, then to have a big lead and leave the game, it seemed safe at that point and it was a good feeling."

Wolf also had an impressive game at the plate with an RBI double, line single, sacrifice bunt during a five-run third inning and a line-drive out. He came into the game with only three hits in 37 previous at-bats. He acknowledged a loud cheer from the appreciative crowd when he turned the game over to Claudio Vargas in the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, the offense was dispersed, with eight Dodgers scoring runs. Furcal, whose first half was pretty much as frustrating as Wolf's, had three hits and four RBIs.

"Sometimes when I'm struggling, I know this is not the Rafael Furcal I know," Furcal said. "But my swing is getting better and I'm feeling more comfortable every day."

James Loney also had three hits, scored three runs and drove in two. Even Ramirez drove in two with a stand-up triple in his first-inning at-bat.

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