It has been decades since there's been a club as hot as the Los Angeles Dodgers .
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will make his major league managerial debut after the sudden firing of Manuel as the woeful Phillies face the red-hot Dodgers on Friday night.
With the team 20 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East, Philadelphia (53-67) let Manuel go Friday afternoon following a major league-worst 4-19 slump dating to July 20. The Phillies have hit .218 and compiled a 5.12 ERA in that span.
"I did not resign and I did not quit," Manuel said. "I think it was an agreement."
Manuel led the club to five straight division titles from 2007-11, won the World Series in 2008 and became the winningest manager in franchise history with a 780-636 record. He's been at the helm since 2005, but Philadelphia went .500 last year and is now on track to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2002.
"I didn't see any reason to have him go through the last 40 games knowing he wasn't going to be back," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That wouldn't have been fair."
While Manuel considers an offer to remain with the organization, Sandberg immediately takes over in the dugout on an interim basis after serving as the Phillies' third-base coach. He had been considered the heir apparent to become manager after joining the club during the offseason.
Sandberg spent the previous six years coaching in the minors.
His first series running the Phillies won't be any easy one because it's against the hottest team in baseball.
NL West-leading Los Angeles (70-50) has gone a major league-best 40-8 since June 22, the franchise's best 48-game stretch in the modern era and the best in baseball since the 1942 Cardinals went 41-7 from Aug. 11-Oct. 1.
Yasiel Puig has played a huge role in that success, posting a major league-best .368 average with 11 homers, 27 RBIs and 47 runs since getting called up June 3. Adrian Gonzalez , meanwhile, is 8 for 16 with runners in scoring position this month.
"I can't explain what's happening here, but it's fun," manager Don Mattingly told MLB's official website. "Puig's been great, Adrian, too. It's been a team thing. There have been contributions from different guys in all different areas, all over the field, from the bench to the bullpen to the back end of the game to the middle of the game."
Puig and Gonzalez delivered back-to-back doubles in the 12th inning as Los Angeles came back to beat the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday. The Dodgers have outscored opponents 51-21 during an eight-game winning streak, their longest since a nine-game run May 9-18, 2010.
"It's on par for what's going on with this team," said Andre Ethier , who hit a pinch-hit game-tying two-run homer in the ninth. "It's not the same hero every night. It's someone different stepping up when they're name is called. It's a nice sign."
The Phillies return home after getting outscored 33-16 during a 1-5 road trip, capped by Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Atlanta.
Despite getting a six-hitter from Cole Hamels in Monday's 5-1 win at Turner Field, Philadelphia's starters recorded a 7.04 ERA during the team's trek.
"If our starting pitching gets going right, I think we're very capable of winning some games," Manuel said after Wednesday's loss.
Scheduled starter Cliff Lee (10-5, 3.18 ERA) has recently had a rough go, posting an 0-3 record and a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts. The left-hander surrendered three runs in six innings but didn't receive a decision in Saturday's 8-5 loss at Washington.
Lee, 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA in six career starts versus Los Angeles, will be opposed by fellow Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.21). The right-hander has looked every bit like one of the best pitchers in the game over his last 10 starts, going 7-1 with a 2.49 ERA.
"Everyone is playing good, I'm just feeding off the energy," he said. "For the most part, I'm executing pitches and all of them are a lot sharper."
Greinke had everything working again Saturday, scattering six hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay.
"Zack is one of the best pitchers in the league, and he showed why," Gonzalez said.
Greinke allowed four runs and a season-high 12 hits in seven innings in a 6-4 win over the Phillies on June 27.
The Dodgers have taken eight of 11 from the Phillies, including four straight at Citizens Bank Park.
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||25||.120||3||1||2||1||3||.148||.388||.240|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|August 04, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Jammed right shoulder|
|August 03, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|July 30, 2013||Brian Wilson||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|July 23, 2013||Jose Dominguez||15-Day DL||Left quad strain|
|July 22, 2013||Matt Kemp||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|July 13, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left hip|
|August 14, 2013||John Lannan||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|July 29, 2013||Jonathan Pettibone||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 26, 2013||Cliff Lee||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 14, 2013||Joe Savery||15-Day DL||Left elbow stiffness|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- No matter who is managing in the other dugout, nothing can derail the Los Angeles Dodgers these days.
Zack Greinke pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Hanley Ramirez homered to lead the streaking Dodgers to a 4-0 victory over new manager Ryne Sandberg and the slumping Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
The defeat capped a tumultuous and emotional day for Philadelphia. Charlie Manuel , the winningest manager in club history, was fired earlier in the day by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who broke down when delivering the news.
"It was a roller coaster of a day emotionally," Sandberg said. "It affected me and I think it affects the players."
Sandberg, the Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman, was promoted from third base coach to interim manager. But the Phillies, who have lost 20 of 24, didn't play any differently for Sandberg.
The Dodgers didn't play any differently, either.
Ramirez's two-run homer in the fourth was all the offense Greinke (11-3) needed to lead Los Angeles to its season-best ninth straight win and 18th victory in its last 19 road games. The Dodgers are 41-8 since June 22.
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said his club's approach is simple: just win.
"The plan is intact, just win every night," he said. "I want to win every day."
Jokingly asked if all the winning has gotten boring, Mattingly said, "Are you kidding me? It's been great."
Greinke won his third straight start while outpitching Cliff Lee (10-6) in a matchup of former AL Cy Young Award winners. The right-hander struck out three and walked four.
"I felt pretty good. I was just trying to make pitches," Greinke said. "I'm just trying to do my job and the bullpen has been incredible. Lately everybody is talking about it. Nothing is going bad. The pitching, the defense, the hitting and the bullpen have been great. We've won a lot of close games. You expect to win. That's how it's been."
It's been the opposite for the Phillies, even on days when they get a strong pitching performance.
Lee, who entered 0-3 with a 5.63 ERA in his last four starts, looked more like the $120 million pitcher he is by tossing eight strong innings. He allowed three runs on five hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
Ramirez had one of those hits, a drive to left in the fourth that put Los Angeles ahead 2-0. He is 8 for 16 with three homers against Lee.
"Other than that, I was pleased," Lee said.
But no one who spoke in the Phillies' clubhouse was happy about Manuel's departure.
"I definitely enjoyed Charlie and liked playing for him," Lee said. "I thought he did a good job. It's definitely our fault. We weren't getting it done."
And they couldn't get it done against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles added a run in the seventh on Mark Ellis ' double and another in the ninth on Scott Van Slyke's single.
"Everybody's just trying to do their job, not try to do too much," Ramirez said.
The Phillies, as has been the case for most of the second half, had no answer. Sandberg questioned the team's focus before the game, calling its play "lackadaisical" at times lately. Philadelphia's batters appeared to be trying, but they couldn't produce runs off Greinke or three Dodgers relievers.
The Phillies finished with just three hits while being shut out for the 11th time.
"Not executing and lackadaisical play are completely different but look the same," Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
The Phillies threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs before Ronald Belisario struck out Darin Ruf .
It's been that kind of season for Philadelphia, especially lately.
Manuel paid for it.
The 69-year-old skipper was in the final year of his contract and wanted to manage another two or three seasons.
"I never quit nothing and I didn't resign," Manuel said, making it clear he was pushed out the door.
Phillies fans responded to the news by bringing impromptu signs to the game thanking Manuel for his tenure. One of the loudest cheers of the evening went to a young boy shown on the electronic scoreboard wearing a T-shirt that read: "Thanks Charlie. I'll Miss You."
Sandberg managed the Phillies' Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley the previous two seasons. He was part of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history when the Phillies traded him and Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus in 1982.
Amaro said Sandberg takes over on an interim basis and would be evaluated after the season. Sandberg inherited a team that entered Friday 20 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East.
"These guys are professional players, they're getting paid well," Sandberg said. "Sometimes players have to dig deeper, play with pride, play with heart and for the name on the front of the uniform."
Manuel won his 1,000th game as a manager on Monday in Atlanta. Two days later, he sat in the dugout knowing it would be his last game after Amaro informed him of the decision not to extend his contract. The Phillies had planned to honor Manuel on Friday by presenting him with a base signed by every member of the team. Those plans were canceled.
Manuel led Philadelphia to the franchise's second World Series title in 2008 and brought the team back to the Series in 2009, when the Phillies lost to the Yankees in six games.
Manuel was 780-636 with the Phillies and won five straight NL East titles from 2007-11. He also spent three years as manager of the Cleveland Indians , winning the AL Central in 2001.
NOTES: It was the Dodgers' 15th shutout of the season. ... Dodgers C A.J. Ellis took a foul ball by Ruf off his left knee in the eighth. A limping Ellis remained in the game. ... The Dodgers recalled Van Slyke from Triple-A Albuquerque and optioned shortstop Dee Gordon to their top farm club. Van Slyke went 1 for 4 with an RBI. ... Philadelphia placed left-hander John Lannan on the disabled list with left knee tendinosis and recalled right-handed reliever B.J. Rosenberg, who has a 12.00 ERA in three appearances this season. ... Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-7, 1.88 ERA) opposes Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (10-9, 4.48) on Saturday night.