LOS ANGELES -- Five years have passed since Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez produced his only season with at least 30 home runs. It looks as if he's getting ready to make up for lost time.
Ramirez launched a pair of homers Thursday night and Zack Greinke threw six quality innings before the relief pitching and late-inning replacements imploded in a four-run seventh inning, allowing the Los Angeles Angels to escape with a 7-5 victory in the opener of the three-game exhibition series at Dodger Stadium.
Ramirez, who's in the final year of a six-year, $70 million contract he extended with the Florida Marlins early in his 34-homer season of 2008, can't afford another year like the last, when the 30-year-old Dominican appeared in only 86 games because of injuries.
He still hit .345 and clubbed 20 home runs, which raises the question: Just what kind of numbers could Ramirez stack up if he played a full season?
It's something the Dodgers would surely like to find out.
Ramirez is certainly paying close attention to the market. He sought information from reporters before the game about the nine-figure contract extension Miguel Cabrera is reportedly close to signing with the Detroit Tigers, then went out and hit a bullet over the right-center-field fence with two outs in the third for a solo home run. He led off the fifth with an even more impressive shot, a towering blast two-thirds up the pavilion in left to break a 3-3 tie.
Greinke, who was limited during spring training because of a sore left calf, retired the first eight batters he faced before surrendering a two-out double to Erick Aybar in the third. That led to a run when second baseman Justin Turner fielded a grounder to his left but threw to first while still drifting. The ball sailed wide of Adrian Gonzalez, ending up near the Angels' on-deck circle.
Greinke couldn't escape another jam in the fifth after the Angels put runners on second and third with one out following a double down the third-base line by catcher Chris Iannetta. Greinke induced Aybar to fly out to Yasiel Puig in shallow right, but leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun roped a two-run single to right-center to knot the score at 3-3.
Puig, criticized for his inability to hit the cutoff man last season, did so on that play and the Dodgers were able to tag out Calhoun in a rundown between first and second base.
Greinke departed after jamming Josh Hamilton with his 81st pitch for the final out of the sixth inning. The bullpen, however, couldn't hold the lead as Jose Dominguez gave up a two-run single to Howie Kendrick and two more runs came home on a throwing error by backup catcher Drew Butera for a 7-4 lead.