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Ramirez makes a statement

Bat speaks loudly in 3-for-5 night

CLEVELAND -- Manny Ramírez hasn't been speaking often this season, but when he does, it's usually something profound.

Last night, for instance.

About a half-hour prior to game time, just as he left the batting cage after a vigorous session, he said to a reporter, ''You remember this day. This day, I'm telling you, we're going to win the whole thing again."

Ramírez felt well enough last night to give Terry Francona the thumbs-up, meaning his left ankle was better after he was hit by a pitch Saturday and left the game. He also missed Sunday's game, but last night he said, ''I feel fine. No problem. I'm ready."

Whether it was a case of feeling good in the cage or just returning to his old haunts, Ramírez was in top form, with a three-run homer and an RBI double in the Red Sox' 10-9 victory over the Indians.

Of course, there was also a Manny moment.

In the ninth inning, after Johnny Damon had added what appeared to be an insurance run with his third homer of the season, Ramírez lined a ball to left-center against reliever Bobby Howry. For some reason, Ramírez tried to stretch it into a double. But it became apparent very quickly that such an endeavor was futile, that the throw was going to get to second long before he did. Ramírez, knowing the inevitable, stood up and took the tag. Afterward he smiled and shook his head, knowing he had made a Manny Mistake.

At least he felt fine. Ramírez had a pretty good head of steam rounding first.

''I'm all washed up," Ramírez kidded.

Francona commended Ramírez for the three-run homer that seemed to unravel starter C.C. Sabathia for good. On the base-running gaffe, which looked worse after the Indians drew within a run in the ninth, Francona said, ''I think Manny was a tad bit overaggressive. It was certainly a nice swing. It was almost like T-ball where the last kid up gets a hit and just keeps running until they tag him out. I don't know if Manny would have made it if he had slid. But I don't think so."

Ramírez, who is headed to his fifth straight All-Star Game, is trying to regain the form that made him the 2002 American League batting champion and last year's home run king. His average is slowly climbing -- last night's 3 for 5 got him to .267 -- and he has 15 homers and 55 RBIs.

The three-run homer came at the best of times, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead, because Sabathia had decent stuff early in the game. It came after Edgar Renteria's double to left field and David Ortiz's single.

Ramírez's ground-rule double hit the chalk down the left field line on a pitch that shattered his bat. Sabathia couldn't seem to believe that Ramírez had enough strength to get the ball into the outfield, and Ramírez seemed quite baffled by the hit as well. Nonetheless, it raised Ramírez's career average against the hard-throwing lefthander to .643 (9 for 14) with four home runs and seven RBIs.

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