Kemp's hustle turns tide

It isn't often a routine groundball to third base starts a rally and lights up a stadium. But that illustrates yet another way that Matt Kemp can impact a game. With the Dodgers down trailing the Giants 3-1 Friday, Kemp led off the sixth inning with a single. He was trying to steal second base when Marcus Thames hit a routine grounder to Pablo Sandoval at third.

Sandoval needed to charge the ball, which Kemp saw as he rounded second, and Kemp took off for third base in a blur as Sandoval threw to first base. Kemp was easily safe at third.

"I'm continuing to learn every day about running bases," Kemp said. "Sometimes you have to take chance. That was a chance I took, and it helped us."

It more than helped. Kemp's hustle woke up the crowd and energized the Dodgers dugout. James Loney hit a sacrifice fly to score Kemp, and then the Dodgers put together three singles and took advantage of two costly Giants errors to take the lead and win 4-3 at an electric Dodger Stadium.

"Matt set the tone, going from first to third on that hit-and-run," pitcher Chad Billingsley said. "That got us fired up."

Added catcher Rod Barajas: "When your best player hustles like that, it makes you want it even more."

It's only two games, but it's an ideal start to the season for Kemp.

In the first game, he walked three times, singled once, stole a base and scored both runs. His ground-rule double scored the first run Friday, and in addition to the hustle in the sixth, he made a tough catch on a sinking liner in the eighth inning.

--RHP Chad Billingsley allowed a three-run homer to Brandon Belt in the fourth inning, but no additional runs in six innings to pick up the victory. Billingsley walked and scored the game's first run as well. He is 5-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six starts at home against the Giants.

--Manager Don Mattingly became the first skipper making his managerial debut to beat the reigning World Series champs since Lou Piniella beat the Royals on April 8, 1986. Among those who sent Mattingly a congratulatory text message was Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez.

--INF Juan Uribe didn't come out of Thursday's game when he was hit on the left elbow by a Tim Lincecum pitch. However, the elbow swelled up overnight, and Uribe underwent a precautionary X-ray (there was nothing broken) on Friday afternoon. Uribe didn't play in Friday's game, but manager Don Mattingly is hopeful he will start Saturday. Uribe is the first player ever to hit 20-plus home runs for the Dodgers or Giants, then join the other rival the subsequent season.

--3B Casey Blake was 3-for-5 with two walks Friday in an extended spring training game in Arizona. Blake, who had been slowed by a back injury, didn't get enough at-bats in spring training to be ready for the season. In a phone call Thursday, manager Don Mattingly reminded Blake to be honest about how his swing and timing are coming along because the Dodgers don't want him back prematurely.

--2B Ivan De Jesus Jr. made his major league debut Friday, 36 years and 200 days after his father made his debut with the Dodgers. De Jesus turned a double play in the first inning, but he went 0-for-3 (all were strikeouts) and walked in his four plate appearances.

--OF Gabe Kapler said in spring training that if he didn't make the Dodgers' Opening Day roster, he likely would retire because he wants to spend more time with his family. The Dodgers are hoping to convince him to accept an assignment to Class AAA Albuquerque, and Kapler is taking a few days to decide.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Countries or territories represented on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster (and disabled list). They are: the United States, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Curacao and Venezuela. Four more countries (Mexico, Cuba, South Korea and Panama) are represented in the minors.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It feels good to get the first (victory), especially against the Giants. The guys played hard today. They fought. The guys in the bullpen came in and shut the door." -- RHP Chad Billingsley, after allowing three runs in six innings to win in his 2011 debut.

--INF Juan Uribe (sore left elbow) was hit by a pitch March 31, and he didn't play April 1. He is day-to-day.

--C Dioner Navarro (torn right oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He might be able to return in late April.

--3B Casey Blake (back tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. As of April 1, he was participating in extended spring training games, but the timetable for his return was uncertain.

--RHP Jon Garland (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He could be back in the big-league rotation in late April.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right forearm surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He could be back in the big-league rotation in mid-April.

--OF Jay Gibbons (blurred vision in left eye) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He got new contact lenses in late March, and he didn't expect to be sidelined long-term.
   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Ted Lilly
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   RHP Jonathan Broxton 
   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo
   RHP Matt Guerrier
   LHP Kenley Jansen
   RHP Blake Hawksworth
   RHP Lance Cormier
   RHP Mike MacDougal
   Rod Barajas
   A.J. Ellis
   Hector Gimenez

   1B James Loney
   2B Jamey Carroll
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Juan Uribe
   INF Ivan De Jesus Jr.
   INF Aaron Miles

   LF Tony Gwynn Jr.
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Marcus Thames
   OF Xavier Paul

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