Ramirez gets back into swing

Slugger shows off power — and speed on base paths

By Nate Taylor
Globe Correspondent / June 20, 2010

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He didn’t smile. Nor did he show much emotion. Really, Manny Ramirez continued to play baseball like it was any just other day.

And if fans inside Fenway Park wanted more appreciation from Ramirez than what they received Friday night — which was little to nothing — they were again disappointed.

Yet Ramirez did have some surprises in giving the type of performance that Red Sox fans saw for eight years. This wasn’t the complete showing of “Manny being Manny,’’ but there were glimpses during the Sox’ 5-4 win over the Dodgers yesterday.

In the second inning, after the sold-out crowd gave Ramirez a mix of standing ovations and loud boos, much like Friday, he stepped into the batter’s box. Ramirez then ripped a single to left that prompted a leisurely trot to first base. With Tim Wakefield on the mound, Ramirez took his lead — only it was a sizeable lead. Wakefield, knowing Ramirez well from their years as teammates, didn’t pay much attention.

So Ramirez took a gamble.

He stole second with ease as the crowd oohed at the attempt. It was Ramirez’s first stolen base since Aug. 29, 2008.

Wakefield’s thoughts? “Congratulations,’’ he said, with a sarcastic clap.

Three batters later, Ramirez scored on a single by Garret Anderson.

Ramirez improved on his 1-for-5 performance Friday. In each at-bat against Wakefield, Ramirez stayed on the offensive by swinging at the first pitch. In the sixth inning, Ramirez hit a solo home run just over the Green Monster on a hanging knuckleball. Once Ramirez made contact, he extended his arms outward — the signature of a Ramirez homer — before his slow jog around the bases.

It was Ramirez’s first home run against Wakefield in 29 at-bats.

Ramirez, the Dodgers’ designated hitter for the second straight game, finished with two hits, two runs, an RBI, and the stolen base.

“He’s certainly comfortable hitting in this ballpark, and I think that helped more than anything else,’’ Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “I thought Manny had good at-bats [Friday] night, too.’’

Ramirez’s homer cut the Red Sox’ lead to 3-2. Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla said the home run gave the Dodgers energy. After Kevin Youkilis homered to make it 4-2, the visitors tied the game at 4 in the seventh.

“He gave us a chance to tie the game,’’ Padilla said. “Not only did it motivate the team, but it motivated me to continue pitching.’’

Ramirez had another opportunity to give the Dodgers a boost when he led off the eighth. With the game tied, Ramirez popped out against Hideki Okajima.

Ramirez, who hasn’t spoken to the media all season, declined to comment again yesterday, which meant teammates such as Anderson were forced to talk about Ramirez’s second game back in Boston.

“He’s had some success at this park,’’ Anderson said. “He’s a good hitter. What else do you want me to say?’’

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