Dodgers Display Power in Wild, 9-5 Opener

The Dodgers demonstrated there appreciation of home cooking by battering Arizona 9-5 in the home opener. Los Angeles could only manage three singles but compensated with three doubles and four home runs. Clayton Kershaw struggled, as did Ramon Ortiz, but when the smoke clears the Dodgers were 3-4 on the young season.

Kershaw (1-0) had a solid four innings but then completely lost his command, escaping a bases-loaded one out disaster in the fifth and then issuing two free passes to start the sixth before being excused for the rest of the afternoon. He finished 5.1 innings, allowed only three hits and two runs but walked five to go with his seven strikeouts.

He had thunderous support. Seven of the Dodgers 10 hits were for extra bases with Manny Ramirez (#1), Casey Blake (#1), Matt Kemp (#2) and Andre Ethier (#1) each banged a ball out of the park. James Loney doubled twice and Ethier added a double to his round tripper. The four homers were more than the team had collected in the first six games (three).

Jeff Weaver, making his sixth appearance in seven games, closed out the fifth inning. Ramon Ortiz was battered before Ramon Troncoso saved him and Jonathan Broxton was called in to close things out even though it was not a save situation.

Dodgers pitching stranded 10 runners overall and held the Diamondbacks to three hits in 14 rips to the plate with runners in scoring position. The top four in the Arizona lineup went 3-for-17 and left (individually) 15 on base. The Dodgers were 2-for-8 with RISP and left seven on.

Kemp, Ethier and Loney each had a pair of hits. Ethier drove in three and Blake knocked in two runners.

Los Angeles, who was in last place (2-4) behind San Francisco (5-1) when the game started, improved to 3-4. Arizona dropped to 4-4 while Colorado (3-3) and San Diego (3-4) were scheduled later.

Long Afternoon
Apparently the two teams were intent on displaying all their wares to the sell-out 56,000 fans who thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Between the two clubs there was 18 hits, 14 walks and two hit batsmen which resulted in 37 baserunners. Each team trotted out five pitchers, and each starter was banged around pretty good.

Starter Clayton Kershaw, armed with his new slider, did in fact resemble Sandy Koufax over the first three innings. After a leadoff single, he retired eight straight.

A double by James Loney and a sacrifice fly by Russell Martin gave him a 1-0 lead heading into the fourth having thrown only 48 pitches. He allowed a double and a single in the inning to tie the game at 1-1.

Los Angeles then switched on the auxiliary power in the bottom of the inning. Manny Ramirez lofted his 547th home run some 435 feet and into the top half of the left field stands. Loney, who doubled to left in his first trip, doubled to right and then rode home on Casey Blake's home run over the left field wall.

Kershaw wriggled out of an ugly mess in the top of the fifth but didn't allow a run, thanks to shortstop Rafael Furcal. The young lefty walked the first two Diamondbacks before Furcal dove and captured a hard ground ball in the hole and from flat on his back, got a force at second.

A hit-batsman loaded the bases again but Blake speared a shot and got a force out at third before Kershaw retired the final Arizona batter on a fly ball to left.

Matt Kemp ripped a fast ball into the right-center field seats for a 4-1 lead and Andre Ethier singled, Ramirez walked and with one out, Blake walked to load the sacks. Blake DeWitt forced in a second run with a walk but Russell Martin took a third strike to leave the bases jammed. Russell Martin

The 5-1 lead did nothing to help Kershaw's problems in the sixth. He walked the first two Diamondbacks, hardly coming within an area code of home plate. When he recorded a strikeout on his 110th pitch (59 strikes and 51 balls), manager Joe Torre apparently wanted to take him out on a high note and called in Jeff Weaver.

Weaver allowed a single that tagged Kershaw with his second earned run but got out of the inning with only that one run scored.

Pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll walked, Furcal got his first hit of the day but was erased by Kemp's fielder's choice in the last of the sixth. Then Ethier shot a laser beam into the right field customers and the Dodgers had a comfortable 9-3 lead.

Or did they?

Ramon Ortiz took over in the seventh and quickly retired the first two he faced. Then a walk on a marginal call and a long home run jarred him. A double and a single followed and Ramon Troncoso was called upon to end the inning. However the comfortable lead was now 9-5.

But comfortable it was. Troncoso worked a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Broxton stamped in from the bullpen and worked his 99 mph magic, getting a ground out and a pair of strikeouts to end the game that came within 18 minutes of lasting four hours.

Pitching Probables For the Rest of the Series
Today (Wednesday), RHP Rodrigo Lopez (1-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Chad Billingsley (1-0, 1.69)
Thursday, RHP Dan Haren (1-0, 1.29) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1-0, 0.00)

Record Moves Over .500
The Dodgers' record in home openers since 1958 is now 28-25 and the club won its fourth consecutive home opener. Los Angeles is now over .500 at 25-24 in home openers at Dodger Stadium over that time, including 1-2 against the Diamondbacks (1998, 2003, 2010).

Opening Festivities
The Dodgers' home opener saw Grammy Award-winning country star LeAnn Rimes singing the national anthem, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas tossed the ceremonial first pitch and Larry King started the year off by saying "It's Time for Dodger Baseball."

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier received their Silver Slugger Awards and Kemp will also be given his Rawlings Gold Glove with presentations made by former Dodgers star Eric Karros. The ceremony will conclude with a Navy flyover.  

Haeger in Good Company
On Sunday, right-hander Charlie Haeger became the first pitcher in the National League to strike out at least 10 batters in a game this season when he fanned a Major League season-high 12 yesterday against the Marlins. The 12 strikeouts (in 6.0 innings) by Haeger were the most by a Dodger pitcher since Clayton Kershaw, who set down 13 Giants on April 15 last year.

  Haeger's 12 strikeouts were tied for the fourth most by a Dodger in a single game over the last 10 seasons. The list:
 
  Pitcher                     Date and opponent                  
14—Brad Penny	        May 7, 2007 at FLA               
13—Clayton Kershaw 	April 15, 2009 SF                   
13—Chad Billingsley  	July 13, 2008 FLA                   
12—Charlie Haeger   	April 11, 2010 at FLA               
12—Chad Billingsley	April 24, 2008 ARI                    
12—Darren Dreifort  	May 22, 2003 COL  
 (Dodgers Publicity)
 
Dodger Blue Notes -- With his fifth-inning infield single Saturday night, Manny Ramirez notched his 2,500th career hit. Ramirez became the 91st player in Major League history to reach that milestone, joining teammate Garret Anderson (2,504). He also hit his 547th home run in the home opener. ...Dodger left-hander Clayton Kershaw made his first-career home opener today in just his 53rd big league start. Kershaw struggled in his 2010 season debut last Wednesday in Pittsburgh, walking six batters in 4.2 innings, before leaving with a no decision. Nearly 46 years ago on April 14, 1964, fellow southpaw Sandy Koufax made his only Opening Day start for the Dodgers and shut out the Cardinals on six hits in a 4-0 Dodger victory. ... On this date one year ago today, Orlando Hudson became the eighth Dodger in franchise history to hit for the cycle. Hudson was the first Dodger to do so since Wes Parker back on May 7, 1970. Additionally, on this date in 1954, Hall of Fame Manager Walter Alston made his debut as a Dodger skipper, marking the first of 23 consecutive seasons with the franchise. (Dodgers Publicity)
 
           

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