WASHINGTON -- Hanley Ramirez won a National League Rookie of the Year Award and a batting title and made three All-Star teams during his time with the Marlins. Injuries and slumps have chipped away at that resume over the past few years, but the old Ramirez has reemerged during a month-long surge.
The Dodgers shortstop continued to punish opposing pitchers on Saturday night at Nationals Park. His RBI double in the 10th inning capped a 3-for-5 night and brought home the go-ahead run as the Dodgers beat the Nationals, 3-1, for their 19th victory in 24 games. Los Angeles moved to within a half-game of NL West-leading Arizona, which lost to San Francisco.
Ramirez, batting .429 with 25 RBIs over his past 28 contests, was asked if he felt like people have forgotten how good he was while with Miami.
"I think so," he said. "But that's in the past. I thank God for giving me that support to keep fighting through that tough moment in my life. But I'm not a quitter. I keep working hard, and today it's coming through."
Ramirez's play since coming off the disabled list on June 19 is a major reason why the Dodgers have climbed back into the NL West race. A team that sat 9 1/2 games out of first less than a month ago now faces its smallest deficit since April 13.
"I feel like he's been on a mission since Spring Training," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Ramirez. "He's worked really hard defensively for us, battled through two injuries, continued to work and he's still here."
Ramirez's latest big hit improved the Dodgers to 11-2 in their last 13 games decided by two runs or fewer. After a duel between Zack Greinke and Gio Gonzalez, Los Angeles got another strong performance from its bullpen to go along with some clutch hitting.
In Friday's series opener, the relief corps threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings, and Andre Ethier slugged the go-ahead homer in the ninth. This time, Mattingly squeezed four scoreless frames out of six relievers, with Mark Ellis providing the game-tying single in the seventh to set up Ramirez's late heroics.
"We're seeing three guys here that are top notch," Mattingly said. "When you get that kind of pitching against you, your guys got to be good, keep you in the game and give you a chance to win late. That's what we've been able to do: Stay in the game with our pitching and scratch across one here or there."
Rookie Chris Withrow (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for his first Major League victory, and Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the 10th for his 11th save.
While Gonzalez struck out 11 over his six scoreless innings, Greinke constantly played with fire on a sweltering night in the nation's capital and eventually got burned. The right-hander retired the side in order only once in his six innings, but he gave up just one run, despite seven hits and three walks. He struck out three and stranded eight runners.
Greinke worked out of several perilous situations, including in the first inning, when he escaped by retiring Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond on popups with the bases loaded.
"Got into some jams and made some good pitches," Greinke said. "That was a problem, getting in trouble early, but I got through it, so that was nice.
"I made some good pitches in the first inning, so I was happy with that. But some other times I caught a couple breaks."
The righty's luck ran out in the sixth after getting the first two batters. Chad Tracy singled for his third hit of the night, and Wilson Ramos walked. Pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina then dropped a floater into shallow right field for the go-ahead RBI single.
But with Gonzalez out the game, the Dodgers broke through in the seventh. With two outs, pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker doubled to the right-center-field wall off Drew Storen and scored on Ellis' line-drive single to left.
The L.A. bullpen continued Greinke's high-wire act. Denard Span led off the seventh with a single against Jose Dominguez, but the Dodgers caught a break when Span was called out on a close play at second on Anthony Rendon's attempted sacrifice. Lefty Paco Rodriguez came on to strike out Bryce Harper, and righty Ronald Belisario got Werth to ground into a force at second, with Ramirez making a nice play at shortstop.
In the eighth, Belisario put runners at first and third with one out before striking out pinch-hitter Scott Hairston. Lefty J.P. Howell then entered and got Span to fly out to left on a full count.
Withrow came on in the ninth for his seventh big league appearance and first since July 10, when he tossed three scoreless innings during an extra-inning win over Arizona. This time he made the most of his one inning, capping a 1-2-3 frame by striking out the dangerous Harper.
"I just didn't want to give him too much to hit," Withrow said. "I knew we had a righty [Werth] on deck, so if I walked him, it wasn't the worst thing that could happen, so I just tried to execute pitches and stay with my game plan."
Adrian Gonzalez started the 10th by slicing a double down the left-field line off Craig Stammen (5-5), leaving first base open. Afterward, Greinke would tell Ramirez that he would have walked him had he been on the mound, but the Nationals did not. Stammen left a 1-0 slider up, and Ramirez roped a one-hopper off the center-field wall. Two batters later, the Dodgers tacked on an insurance run with Ethier's sacrifice fly against Ian Krol.
As for the mission Mattingly referred to, Ramirez had moved the Dodgers a little bit closer.
"Win a ring," Ramirez said of the ultimate objective. "But we've got to go step by step. ... We know what we want. Everyone here knows what we want and where we want to be and where we're supposed to be."