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Kiké Hernandez homers twice to lift Dodgers over Giants

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Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Kiké Hernandez put on a show both at the plate and in the field, leading the Dodgers to a rousing 7-3 win over the Giants in their series opener on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Hernandez, the Dodgers' jack of all trades, was their best weapon against left-handed pitching in 2015, hitting .423/.471/.744 with an obscene 15 extra-base hits in 87 plate appearances against southpaws. That drew him the start on Friday against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, off whom he was 7-for-13 (538) with three doubles and a home run coming into the game.

Those numbers went up on Friday. Immediately.

Batting leadoff, Hernandez launched the first pitch of the first inning over the batters eye black tarp in center field for a quick 1-0 lead.

"That's just great. Kiké when he gets an opportunity to play is aggressive in the strike zone. For him to set the tempo and tone for us tonight, it was great," manager Dave Roberts said. "To get a great pitcher like Bumgarner on the first pitch with the Rickey Rally, that was big for us. Then he backed it up with another one."

In the third inning Hernandez waited until the third pitch, but the result was the same, this time the ball ended up halfway up the pavilion straightaway left field, giving the Dodgers the lead again after San Francisco tied it up with a run in the top of the inning.

In the fourth inning, with two runs in thanks to a single by Charlie Culberson — another right-handed bat inserted into Friday's lineup against Bumgarner, at shortstop to rest the left-handed Corey Seager — Hernandez came to the plate with the bases loaded. He didn't homer this time, but a scorcher down the third base line was good enough for a double to score two more.

The four RBI by Hernandez tied a career high, set on Sept. 26, 2014 while with the Marlins, and his 10 total bases were the most by a Dodger since Yasmani Grandal had 10 total bases against the Brewers last May 7 in Milwaukee.

Against left-handed pitchers this season, Hernandez is 8-for-11 (.727) with two home runs and two doubles.

"He's just such a team guy, and jovial, but he's an intense competitor," Roberts said of Hernandez. "For him to have the night he had was pretty cool."

The offense was much needed by the Dodgers, but so was the defense. San Francisco scratched across an unearned run in the third inning, but were threatening for more with Buster Posey up with two outs and runners at second and third.

Posey lined a ball that seemed ticketed for a two-run single that would have given the Giants the lead, but Hernandez laid out to make a diving catch to end the inning.

That helped Clayton Kershaw escape what could have been a big inning, something Bumgarner couldn't avoid in the fourth. Both were let down in the frames by middle infielders — Howie Kendrick had an error in the third, while both Kelby Tomlinson and Joe Panik had errors to help expand the fourth.

The four-run rally in the fourth gave Kershaw some breathing room, on a night when he seemed to need it, at least relative to other Kershaw starts. The first two Giants runs scored on wild pitches, or at least pitches that were scored wild pitches, then Hunter Pence shook off his 5-for-60 career mark against Kershaw for an RBI single in the sixth inning.

But because Kershaw is Kershaw he still lasted seven innings, striking out six while walking one for the win. Kershaw has lasted at least seven innings in each of his last 12 home starts against the Dodgers.

Culberson knocked in another run in the sixth with another single, and is 4-for-9 (.444) as a starter this season.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Kiké Hernandez 2 (2)

WP - Clayton Kershaw (2-0): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 6 strikeouts

LP - Madison Bumgarner (1-1): 5+ IP, 8 hits, 7 runs (4 earned), 1 walk, 7 strikeouts