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Ramirez and Ethier to play in Game 6

Game 6 of the National League Championship Series is tonight at Busch Stadium with the St. Louis Cardinals hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers and leading the series 3-2.

The Dodgers have their backs squarely against the wall in the series needing to win both remaining games of the best of seven series to move on to the World Series.

Therefore, manager Don Mattingly has decided he will start both Andre Ethier his centerfielder and Hanley Ramirez his shortstop even though both are nursing injuries.

Ramirez has a hairline fracture of the rib and has had to leave each of the last two games during the seventh inning after the pain gets to be too intense for him to play.

He missed the entire second game of the series after injuring his rib in game 1.

Ethier has a micro-facture of the left ankle, but played in the three games at home after missing game 2.

Mattingly said Ethier felt good and would be starting, but the manager said the outfielder still needed some additional strength playing in the field. Mattingly even expects he will not need a defensive replacement for Ethier late in tonight’s game.

Despite the need to take out Ramirez early over the past two games and his shortstop hitless in 6 at bats with four strikeouts, Mattingly does not believe Ramirez was hurting himself or his team by playing while injured.

Mattingly said Ramirez looked comfortable in game 3 and 5 but did not appear at all comfortable during game 4. Therefore, the final decision will be made when lineups are handed in at home plate, but he expected Ramirez to be on the field.

With being pulled early in game 5 and game 6 not until Friday night, Dodgers coaches hope Ramirez will feel better and play like game 3 when he went 2 for 4.

The Dodgers manager said he would not have either Ethier or Ramirez on the field if he thought they would hurt the club or could not produce.

If Ramirez shows signs of too much pain or he cannot swing a bat, then Mattingly will go to Nick Punto. He also will not hesitate to switch Ethier for Skip Schumaker if Ethier cannot play up to par.

At this point in the season, players do not want to be sidelined, regardless of how painful their injuries are. Both Ramirez and Ethier know when they cannot help the team or are a detriment to their club and will let Mattingly know. Until that time, they two are better than their replacements and must play through their pain.

Mattingly is hoping that with Clayton Kershaw on the mound his offense will not have to be too potent. If Kershaw can hold the Cardinals scoreless or to a single run, the Dodgers will have a good chance of winning and could afford to pull Ramirez and Ethier late for defensive purposes.

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