Manny ties Mantle, Kemp lifts Dodgers in 10th
Ramirez tied Mickey Mantle on the career home run chart early, and Matt Kemp hit a 10th-inning grand slam and made a fantastic catch for the final out to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the struggling Milwaukee Brewers 12-8 on Friday night.
"It feels good, but it's just like another home run," said Ramirez, who was distracted watching film of at-bats against the Phillies and swinging his arms gently through an imaginary strike zone. "It makes me proud, but like I said it's just another home run that I hit. I didn't even know I tied him."
Ramirez's 536th homer pulled him even with Mantle for 15th place, and the Dodgers rallied against Trevor Hoffman in the ninth. Casey Blake drove in Ramirez with a triple in the 10th, and Kemp's slam broke it open moments later.
"Manny's a special talent, he's a special player, so was Mickey, obviously," Torre said. "I know there's going to be some questions for the rest of his career. I'm not sure you can question how many he hits, it's how far they go. I think that's really what affects it more than anything else."
Andre Ethier, James Loney and Russell Martin also homered for the Dodgers (55-31), who will enter the All-Star break with the best record in the majors.
Ramirez continued his torrid pace since returning from a 50-game drug suspension, hitting a two-run shot in the sixth. With two on in the 10th, Kemp made a running, over-the-shoulder grab of Jason Kendall's drive to deep center with his back to home plate, similar to Willie Mays' famous catch in the 1954 World Series.
"I was messing around with it in batting practice today," said Kemp, who ran up the wall for show after the catch. "I guess I thought I'd use it in the game."
Torre joked it was more like Wesley Snipes' character in Major League: "He comes in and says, 'Willie Mays Hayes.'"
Brewers manager Ken Macha said it was a fitting end.
"To rub a little salt in our wounds the guy makes an over-the-shoulder catch to end it," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "It's a little disappointing to lose two days in a row having a one-run lead late."
This loss was especially painful for the Brewers because Hoffman blew a save opportunity for the second time this year and Carlos Villanueva (2-6) gave up six runs in the 10th for his second loss in as many days.
The five Dodgers homers marked their biggest power surge since hitting seven against the San Diego Padres nearly three years ago, but small ball paid off first.
"You better win if you do that," Torre said. "That's not normally what our signature is, but we certainly put them to good use tonight."
Ramirez walked with one out in the 10th and Blake, who had been 0 for 4, hammered a pitch off the wall in right-center field that allowed Ramirez to easily score.
Juan Pierre intentionally walked and Martin hit an infield single that scored Blake. Orlando Hudson walked to load the bases and Kemp's homer landed in the second deck in left field, sending fans streaming to the exits.
Ramon Troncoso (3-0) struck out Ryan Braun with the winning run at second to end the ninth and Jonathan Broxton gave up two runs in the bottom of the 10th in his second straight shaky appearance after allowing three in Sunday's 13-inning win against the Padres.
Rookie Mat Gamel and J.J. Hardy homered for the Brewers, who have lost seven of nine and fell three games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central to match their largest deficit since May 7.
Gamel's homer in the eighth put Milwaukee up 6-5, but Hoffman gave it back after converting 19 of his first 20 save chances.
Martin singled to start the ninth, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hudson, reached third on Kemp's bunt single and scored when Mark Loretta singled up the middle to tie it at 6.
"Against teams like that, it's important to close the door," Hoffman said. "I was just trying to be aggressive. It comes with the territory."
Notes: Ramirez is 7 of 22 with three homers, nine RBIs and seven runs scored in seven games since returning to the lineup. ... Brewers RHP Dave Bush (triceps) allowed four hits and an unearned run in 4 2-3 innings at Class-A Wisconsin in his first rehab start. He could return to the rotation as soon as July 20. ... Brewers RF Corey Hart (foot) missed his third straight game.
Last updated: 10:58 am Thursday, December 13, 2012