LOS ANGELES (AP) — Through most of the first two months of the season, Yasiel Puig batted second and Hanley Ramirez hit third for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez is still hitting behind Puig, only now they are in the third and fourth spots, and the change is starting to generate positive results for manager Don Mattingly.
Ramirez homered twice, drove in five runs and scored four times, tying career highs in all three categories and leading the defending NL West champions to a 12-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
"I just try to help the team any way I can," Ramirez said. "When Donnie asked me if I was OK with it, I said: "I just want to win.' Puig's been doing a great job, so why not hit him third so he can learn how to drive runs in?"
Ramirez, whose 4 for 4 day increased his career average against Pittsburgh to .362, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning against Brandon Cumpton and led off the sixth against Bryan Morris with his ninth of the season.
The 2009 NL batting champion and three-time All-Star shortstop is 8 for 20 with eight RBIs in five starts in the cleanup spot after missing four games because of a sore left calf.
"He found some good pitches to hunt and put some good swings on some balls," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The history he's got against this organization is significant. I saw him break in. I had him on the All-Star team in 2008. He's a good player, a good hitter, and he's done some damage at the plate. He also stole a base today, so that shows you his wheel's OK."
Puig had an infield hit in the third inning and has reached base in 32 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors. He is 13 for 32 with a homer and three RBIs in nine games since Mattingly moved him from second to third in the lineup, and the Dodgers are 5-4 during that stretch.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2) breezed to his third straight victory, allowing two runs and 10 hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Last Monday at Dodger Stadium, Ryu did not allow a baserunner through the first seven innings of his 4-3 victory over Cincinnati.
"He threw the ball really well," catcher Drew Butera said. "He had good command, changed speeds well in and out and did a real good job focusing on every pitch, and he made my job easy. Our guys do a really good job of having a plan and purpose every pitch."
Jamey Wright was credited with his second save in 19 major league seasons, after pitching the final three innings and allowing one hit. His other save was in 2011 with Seattle.
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