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Elbert steals show from Manny

Ramirez sits out as former first-rounder fires six-inning one-hitter
Bill Mitchell/Four Seam Images
June 26, 2009
Scott Elbert made sure the 15,083 fans that braved a rainy Thursday night at Isotopes Park to get a final peak at Manny Ramirez didn't go home completely disappointed.

With the suspended Dodgers star sitting out what was scheduled to be his final appearance in Albuquerque due to inclement weather, Elbert put on quite a show of his own.

Los Angeles' first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft struck out seven and walked one en route to a rain-shortened, six-inning one-hitter as the Isotopes blanked the Nashville Sounds, 4-0.

"It's great that [Ramirez} came out here to play for us," said Elbert, who is hoping for another shot at the Majors after going 1-1 with a 9.49 ERA in 13 relief outings for the Dodgers over the past two seasons.

"He brought in a lot of fans, and it's a lot of fun to play in front of such a big crowd. That's to be expected because Manny is such a high-profile guy."

While Elbert (1-0) may not possess the drawing power of Ramirez, he did find a way to keep the fans interested as he took a no-hitter into the sixth after facing the minimum through the first five frames.

"I felt great," Elbert said. "(J.D.) Closser was catching everything. We were on the same page and things were working and we stuck with it. To be honest, I was just getting ahead, not falling behind in counts. I was able to go to my slider and changeup whenever I needed to."

After striking out Cole Gillespie to start the sixth, Elbert gave up Martin Maldonado's blooper into center field to end the no-hit bid.

"It was a little single over the second baseman's head," said Elbert, who had his best outing since tossing 6 1/3 one-hit innings for Double-A Chattanooga on May 29.

Maldonado didn't stay on base long as Elbert struck out pinch-hitter Angel Salome before Closser fired back to first to pick off Nashville's only baserunner since Jason Bourgeois led off the game with a walk.

"It was one of those games where you got a feeling something like this was going to happen," Elbert said after throwing 51 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

The teams were called off the field immediately after the top of the sixth, and play never resumed as Elbert emerged with a victory in his first career Triple-A start.

While he's pitched almost exclusively as a starter during his Minor League career, except for his 25 relief outings at Double-A Jacksonville last year, Elbert isn't locked into the role if the Dodgers come calling.

"Whatever they want me to do, that's what I'm doing," he said. "Whether it's starting or relieving."

Ramirez is expected to leave for California on Friday in preparation for a probable four-game stint with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, according to Josh Rawitch, the Dodgers' vice president of communications.

Ramirez is eligible to return to the Dodgers on July 3, when they face San Diego. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in two games with Albuquerque before leaving Isotopes Park earlier Thursday during an extended rain delay.

"The Dodgers have decided Manny Ramirez will not play in tonight's game because of weather and field conditions," Isotopes management said in a prepared statement.

John Torenli is a contributor to