Hanley Ramirez hurting, will try to play in Game 5

Harry How

The Dodgers face an uphill battle in the NLCS, and might be without their best hitter on Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES -- Hanley Ramirez was in a lot of pain on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, his hairline rib fracture much worse than he felt at any point on Monday before and during Game 3. He was removed after six innings on Tuesday.

"He was having a little more trouble today as the game went on," manager Don Mattingly said. "We'll try it again tomorrow. We'll see where he goes tomorrow, if he's able to get loose and basically we are at the same spot."

Ramirez was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Game 4.

Ramirez said he would try to play on Wednesday afternoon, that he will get to Dodger Stadium early for treatment before the 1:07 p.m. PT start in Game 5. Ramirez, who had to conduct his postgame interviews at his locker sitting down, was asked the odds of him playing on Wednesday.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know."

Nick Punto said he woke up Tuesday morning preparing to start at shortstop in case Ramirez wasn't available, and will do so again on Wednesday. Punto was involved in a rather deflating play in the seventh inning, when he doubled but was promptly picked off by pitcher Carlos Martinez. Punto said he was going to steal third base if Martinez went home on his first move, trying to catch the Cardinals off guard. But instead he was picked off and a rally was squashed.

"That's a lonely place to be," Punto said. "I don't wish that on anybody."

The Dodgers are in a rather lonely place now, down 3-1 in the series. But they have their two best pitchers going in Games 5 and 6, beginning with Zack Greinke on Wednesday afternoon.

"We don't have a lot of time to think about it. We're down 3-1, that's not a real secret. But we're going to be playing at 1 o'clock tomorrow," Mattingly said. "Kind of the best thought I have is I've got one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching tomorrow. If we come out here and play well tomorrow and get a win, I've probably got the best pitcher in baseball pitching the next day."

The Dodgers have allowed eight runs in four games and trail in the series 3-1. They have scored only seven runs themselves.

"It give us a ton of confidence," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said of having aces Greinke and Kershaw scheduled the next two games. "We just have to score a few runs for them.

"It's the reason we're down 3-1. If we ha scored runs we'd be up 3-1 right now. It's about hitting, and we've got to be able to put runs on the board."

Having Ramirez, specifically a healthy Ramirez, in the lineup will go a long way toward scoring those runs. But that might be too tall a task to ask at this point. We will find out in a few short hours.

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