Large Crowd Hails Manny's Return

Manny Ramirez encountered boos in Chicago, apathy in New York and indifference in Milwaukee but when he finally returned to what he calls "home", Dodger Stadium, he received unconditional support from fans who were on their feet chanting "Manny, Manny" before he was even announced. The best he could give them was an eighth inning single and the best the Dodgers could do was a 3-0 loss to Houston.

But the game seemed anti-climatic, for the full-house in "Mannywood," a special sold-out section section that included 500 fans in Mannywood t-shirts. And never was heard a discouraging word.

The game had a carnival atmosphere and even Juan Pierre, who was Ramirez's replacement during his suspension, was given a standing ovation when he was announced as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.

Ramirez, who flew out to right, struck out in his next two at-bats and then lined an eighth-inning single in his final at-bat. "This is my town and these are the best fans in the world," he said after the game.

If that is the case, the crowd of 45,970 strong, deserved better than an eight-hit shutout authored by Houston's Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez and the Astro bullpen.

showed why he entered the game No. 8 in the National League with a 2.96 ERA. His pitches moved and danced around the plate, eluding Dodgers bats for six strikeouts. It was the club's first game since the All-Star break. It was the fifth time this year the Dodgers were shut out.

Rodriguez skated around a one-out mess that left runners on first and second dilemma in the fourth inning and induced Andre Ethier to ground into a double play with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning.

Randy Wolf and Rodriguez matched pitch for pitch into the fifth inning before Astros catcher Humberto Quintero lined a shot over the center-field fence for a home run for the only run Houston would need.

The Astros Ko'ed Wolf in the seventh after he allowed three consecutive singles to open the inning. Guillermo Mota took over and gave up an RBI single while a double play allowed the second run to score.

James Loney walked and Orlando Hudson singled to open the seventh but two strikeouts and a ground ball to second base closed that door. Ramirez singled but was eliminated by a double play in the eighth and Hudson's third single of the game in the ninth was of no consequence.

"Wolf pitched a good game," Torre said. "Had one inning there in the seventh inning where he gave up three straight hits -- aside from that, he was in command the whole time."

Mota, Brent Leach, Claudio Vargas and Scot Elbert combined to hold Housto to one hit over the final three innings.

 Score by innings
Houston	        000 010 200-3
Los Angeles	000 000 000-0

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  0  0  .253
Ethier lf	4  0  1  0  .250
Ramirez lf	4  0  1  0  .352
Blake 3b	3  0  1  0  .285
Kemp cf	        4  0  0  0  .316
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .258
Loney 1b	3  0  1  0  .281
Hudson 2b	4  0  3  0  .288
Wolf p	        2  0  0  0  .081
 Mota p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .327
 Leach p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Vargas p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Loretta ph	1  0  0  0  .243
 Totals	        33 0 8 0
 Houston 	30 3 5 2

 Two-base hits- Hudson (25). LOB- Los
Angeles 9 Houston 6. DP- Furcal, Hudson 
and Loney.

 Los Angeles	in  h r-er bb so  era
Wolf (4-4)	6.0  5  3-3  1  6  3.51
Mota        	1.0  1  0-0  0  0  3.43		
Leach	        0.2  0  0-0  1  1  4.12
Vargas	        1.0  1  0-0  1  1  0.00
Elbert	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  4.82
 T- 3:06. Att- 45,970.
Blue Dodger Blue Note
Gordie Verrell, who for 25 years covered the Dodgers for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, has lost his wife, Janet, to cancer. For those of you who remember him and want to drop him a note, his home address is: 33 Miller Road, Newport News, VA 23602.

Wade to DL; DeWitt Recalled
The Dodgers will place reliever Cory Wade on the disabled list because of a shoulder strain and will recall Blake DeWitt up from Albuquerque to replace him on the 25-man roster. This marks the second time this season that Wade has been put on the DL because of a shoulder injury. Wade missed 16 games after going on the DL with a shoulder injury on April 18. Wade has appeared in 27 games for the Dodgers in 2009, going 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA. DeWitt has played in 16 games this season, hitting .174 with one home run in 23 at-bats.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers are still looking for a starter or a reliever for the stretch drive. Some have mentioned Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay and Indians lefty Cliff Lee. Halladay would be very expensive command a hefty price. Halladay will make ($14.25 million in 2009, and his contract expires after 2010) and the Blue Jays would probably demand a top young player off the major league roster, like Clayton Kershaw, plus prospects. ...The Dodgers have had the lead in the National League or the NL West at the All-Star break 13 times since moving to LA and have gone to the playoffs seven times, including five World Series appearances. The Dodgers entered the season's second half with the best record in baseball for the first time since 1991, when they were 49-31, 1.5 games better than the Toronto Blue Jays (49-34) and have posted a .500-or-better record after the All-Star break 10 times in the last 12 years beginning in 1995. ...Ramirez is batting .365 (12-for-33) with two doubles, three homers, nine RBI, five walks, and a .471 on-base percentage since his return. ...With a cycle April 13 vs. San Francisco and homers from both sides of the plate in the same game in the final game of the Milwaukee series, Orlando Hudson is the first player in modern Dodgers franchise history to accomplish both feats in the same season.

Pitching matchups for the Houston series:

Tonight, July 17 - RHP Chad Billingsley (9-4, 3.38) 
   vs. RHP Roy Oswalt (5-4, 3.85)   
Saturday, July 18 - LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 3.16) 
   vs. LHP Mike Hampton (5-6, 4.52)
Sunday, July 19 - RHP Hiroki Kuroda (3-5, 4.67) 
   vs. RHP Russ Ortiz (3-4, 4.44)