Ramirez's .625 Average Not Enough

The illusion that the Dodgers are a strong contender for the N.L. West Division title took a hit when the Cardinals squirmed out of a first and third, one out situation in the 10th and then got a two-run home run from Ryan Ludwig in the 11th to win 6-4. Ludwick can't match Ramirez's average but he has hit five home runs in the last four games.

Remember Gary Sheffield's rant that the Dodgers should have batted him third and Shawn Green fourth to protect him, instead of the other way around?

Well, while Ramirez is hitting .625 (10-or-16), but Russell Martin in 4-for-17 (.236, with five strikeouts) in front of Manny and Jeff Kent is 1-for-7 (.125) and James Loney is 3-for-9 (.333) but with no RBI behind him.

Making the loss even tougher, the Dodgers scored four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game, kicked off by Andruw Jones' pinch-home run, his third long ball of the season. It was the Cardinal's 27th blown save of the season, tops in the majors.

The seventh pitcher of the night, Jason Johnson, who threw 87 pitches in his most recent start two days before, served up the game-losing home run to Ludwig.

In one of those senseless things that fans sometimes do, Ramirez was booed each appearance at the plate, apparently for having a hand in the Red Sox World Series sweep of Boston in 2004.

Chad Billingsley started and worked five innings, allowing one run on six hits and he left trailing 1-0 after throwing 74 pitches.

The Dodgers bullpen, one of the team's strengths, had a tough night, five of them allowing nine hits and five runs over the final 5.1 innings. Jonathan Broxton was held back for a save opportunity that never came.

Brian Falkenborg took over for Billingsley in the sixth and with one out allowed a double, a single and then a walk to load the bases. Joe Beimel came in and hit pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel in on the billfold on a 0-2 pitch to force in a run.

Park allowed a single and a home run (Albert Pujols) in the seventh to give St. Louis a 4-0 lead and seemingly put the cap on the game.

The Dodgers managed four singles over the first eight innings, two by Ramirez, and went into the ninth trailing 4-0.

In the ninth, Jones, hitting for Troncoso, lined a long shot into the left field seats for his third home run. After Matt Kemp bounced out to second, Andre Ethier and Martin singled and Ramirez walked to load the bases.

James Loney beat out an infield hit down the first base line to make it 4-2 and Jeff Kent knocked in another run with a single to right. Casey Blake's sac fly tied the game before pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney lined out to first.

Then both teams took turns leaving runners on base. The Cardinals had a single and a walk in the ninth and a pair of singles in the 10th. Johnson allowed a single and got Albert Pujols on a popup before Ludwick's game winning homer in the 11th.

Kemp and Ethier led off the 10th with one-out singles but with runners at first and third, Martin fanned on a ball in the dirt. Ramirez was intentionally walked and Loney blistered a shot to left that was caught to end the inning.

Out of pinch-hitters in the 11th, relief pitcher Cory Wade walked with two out but was left at first.

With the loss, and another Arizona win over Pittsburgh, the Dodgers find themselves at 56-56 and 2 1/2 games behind in the division.

Tonight the Dodgers send tough-luck Derek Lowe (8-9, 3.70) to the mound to get them back on the winning side of the ledger. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 6.1 innings in a 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks his most recent start, suffering his first loss since June 29. In his nine losses, the Dodgers have scored 10 runs.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA in his last five starts, but 1-5 with a 5.24 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals. He gave up two runs in seven innings in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on May 23.

St. Louis counters with Joe Pineiro (3-5, 5.04 ERA) who allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 9-4 loss at Atlanta in his most recent outing. Over his last four starts, the right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA while allowing 10 hits in each contest.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 004 00-4
St. Louis	000 011 200 02-6

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        5  0  1  0  .294
Ethier lf	5  1  2  0  .275
Martin c	5  1  1  0  .294
Ramirez lf	3  1  2  0  .625
Loney 1b	5  0  1  1  .299
Kent 2b	        5  0  2  1  .256
Blake 3b	3  0  0  1  .333
Berroa ss	3  0  0  0  .206
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .114
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Johnson p	0  0  0  0  .000
Billingsley p	1  0  1  0  .091
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .279
 Falkenborg p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Jones ph	1  1  1  1  .161
 Ozuna ss	2  0  0  0  .222
  Totals	40 4 11 4
  St. Louis	46 6 15 6

 Error- Berroa (5). HR- Jones (3). RBI-
Jones (14), Loney (62), Kent (46), Blake
(3). SF- Blake. LOB- Los Angeles 8, St.
Louis 12. DP- Martin and Blake.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley	5.0  6  1-1  0  6  3.01
Falkenborg	0.1  2  1-1  1  1  5.56
Beimel	        0.2  1  1-1  0  0  2.01
Park	        1.0  1  1-1  0  0  2.74
Troncoso	1.0  0  0-0  0  0  5.14
Wade	2.0  3  0-0  1  0  2.44
Johnson (1-1)	0.1  2  2-2  0  0  3.57
 HBP- by Beimel. T- 3:21. Att- 40,733.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Billingsley is winless in three career starts against the Cardinals. ...Right-handed pitcher James McDonald was promoted from Jacksonville to Las Vegas, an indication he will probably be promoted to the Dodgers when rosters expand Sept. 1. ...Torre said that RHP Brad Penny is set to re-join the rotation and start Friday against the Giants. Penny recently made a rehab start with Las Vegas. Penny, who has been out since June 15, threw 55 pitches and touched 98 mile per hour. ...The news on injured reliever RHP Scott Proctor isn't good. After a rehab start at Inland Empire he was still feeling sore after tossing 24 pitches. Proctor, who has been out since June 22 with elbow tendinitis, will miss the coming six-game road trip to make another rehab appearance. ...The Dodgers signed former major-league lefty Eric DuBose to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Jacksonville. ... Preston Mattingly was placed on the seven-day disabled list at Great Lakes with lower back tightness.