The Dodgers scored early and often off Johan Santana, and though their series opener was anything but smooth they pulled away with a 7-6 win over the New York Mets in the opener of their 10-game road trip.
Santana was nearly untouchable 20 days ago at Dodger Stadium, allowing just three hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings. But Friday night in New York, the Dodgers scored off Santana in each of his three innings. The onslaught began with a two-run home run in the first inning by Matt Kemp for a 2-0 lead.
Kemp's home run in the first was not only his second home run in his last two plate appearances, but also continued his amazing success against southpaws this season. In 54 plate appearances against southpaws on the season, Kemp is 22-for-45 with seven home runs and nine walks, hitting .489/.574/1.000.
Andre Ethier followed with an opposite field double, his 24th of the year, and scored on a single by Jerry Hairston Jr. to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
A pair of hard hit balls off Aaron Harang in the first - one for an error on Hairston at third base, the other for a double to left field - put a pair of runners in scoring position, and a pair of fly balls from David Wright and Ike Davis cut the Dodgers' lead to 3-2.
The Dodgers loaded the bases against Santana in the second and after he pitched around Kemp for a walk the left-hander couldn't find the strike zone and walked Ethier to force in a run.
After Hairston reached on an infield single to open the third inning, Luis Cruz followed with a shot over the wall in left field for his first major league home run, a two-run shot that widened the Dodgers' lead to 6-2.
Single runs from the Mets in the fifth and sixth innings cut the lead to 6-4, but the Dodgers added what was a much needed insurance run in the seventh.
Ethier walked with one out, then stole second thanks in part to an errant throw by catcher Josh Thole. A single to center field by Juan Rivera scored Ethier, giving the Dodgers a three-run cushion. It was Ethier's second stolen base of the season.
Shawn Tolleson, who got the final two outs of the sixth inning to escape a jam then recorded an out in the seventh inning, allowed a single to Ike Davis to snap his string of 15 consecutive batters retired. Jordany Valdespin followed with a fly ball to left field that somehow landed in the seats for a two-run home run to cut the lead to 7-6.
The 24-year old rookie Valdespin is 4-for-22 as a pinch hitter this season, but all four hits have been home runs.
Ronald Belisario allowed a two-out single to Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning, but struck out David Wright to end the threat.
Kenley Jansen allowed a hit but struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning for his 17th save of the season.
Chris Capuano starts against his former team on Saturday morning, facing spot starter and author Miguel Batista in the second game of a three-game set.
Home Runs: Matt Kemp (14), Luis Cruz (1); Jordany Valdespin (6)
WP - Aaron Harang (7-5): 5 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP - Johan Santana (6-7): 3 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (17): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts