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Ramirez makes winning return from doping ban

MANNY Ramirez made a low-key return to the Los Angeles Dodgers line-up after serving a 50-game ban for a doping offense on Friday, the slugger going 0-for-3 during Dodgers 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres.

Playing for the first time since the suspension was handed out on May 7, Ramirez brought the Padres' home, Petco Park, to its feet during his first at-bat, a first-inning walk.

The right-hander also grounded out twice and popped out before being replaced in left field by Juan Pierre in the bottom of the sixth.

"It was great. I was nervous at first but it was fine," Ramirez said.

"I want to thank my fans. I think they drove from (Los Angeles) just to watch me play and it was unbelievable. This team can do a lot of great things without me. I'm just trying to follow those guys."

With a large contingent of Dodgers supporters making their way to the sold-out stadium, Ramirez was welcomed for the most part with the applause drowning out the boos.


His much anticipated return included a pre-game news conference in which he apologized to fans and teammates but refused to answer questions about the banned substances that evoked his suspension.

"I don't want to get into (that)," Ramirez told reporters. "I don't want to talk about my record. I just want to talk about the game. It was tough but it's over. I'm moving on."

The Dodgers struck quickly against Padres (34-45) by notching five runs in the first inning off losing pitcher Chad Gaudin.

Rafael Furcal finished with four hits and Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda went 5 1/3 innings to get the victory.

In other National League games, it was: St Louis 7, Cardinals 4; Cubs 2, Brewers 1, 10 innings; Giants 13, Astros 0; Phillies 7, Mets 2; Pirates 7, Marlins 4; Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 0; and Braves 9, Nationals 8.

In the American League, Rob Johnson doubled home two runs in the 11th inning to give the Seattle Mariners a thrilling 7-6 win at the Boston Red Sox.

Elsewhere, it was: Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2; Rangers 3, Rays 1; Tigers 11, Twins 9, 16 innings; Orioles 6, Angels 4; White Sox 5, Royals 0; and Indians 15, Athletics 3.


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