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Dodgers power past Padres for opening day win

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7th straight opening day victory for the Dodgers

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — A two-out rally for five runs in the third inning, including a grand slam by Joc Pederson, highlighted a power-packed opening day at Dodger Stadium. Four home runs paced the Dodgers over the Padres 14-3 on Monday afternoon.

A two-out double by Justin Turner started the fateful rally against Padres starter Jhoulys Chacin in the third inning. After an intentional walk and hit by pitch, Pederson ran the count to 3-1 before snapping the 1-1 tie by lining a ball inside the right field foul pole to break open the game.

Pederson’s blast was the first grand slam by a Dodger on opening day since Eric Karros on April 3, 2000 in Montreal.

“I was trying to slow down the opening day jitters,” Pederson said. “I got a good pitch, and was able to put a good swing on it.”

“I know the ball was in on him,” manager Dave Roberts said. “For him to be able to keep that ball fair, to cover that pitch and still take some pitches off the plate down, it was a good at-bat.”

Yasmani Grandal followed the slam with a solo home run of his own for the club’s first back-to-back home runs in 2017. Grandal added another home run in the eighth inning, this time from the right side.

It was the second time as a Dodger Grandal homered from both sides of the plate, also doing so last Sept. 22 against Colorado. Grandal is the first Dodger to homer from both sides of the plate on opening day.

Pederson also drove in the Dodgers’ first run in the second inning with a sacrifice fly. His five RBI are a career high, and the most by a Dodger on opening day since Raul Mondesi drove in six in 1999 against Arizona.

The offense was in support of Clayton Kershaw, who believe it or not trailed after one inning on Monday. A throwing error by shortstop Corey Seager allowed Will Myers to reach second base, then he advanced to third on a wild pitch. With one out, Yangervis Solarte grounded a ball through a drawn-in infield to give San Diego a 1-0 advantage, and their first run against Kershaw since 2015.

Kershaw retired the next 19 straight batters, before Ryan Schimpf homered in the seventh inning to pull the Padres within 10 runs.

Kershaw finished his day allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits in seven innings, with eight strikeouts and no walks. He allowed two batters to reach base, and at the plate reached base twice himself, with a single and a walk.

Both times Kershaw reached base, he scored, making him the first Dodgers pitcher dating back to at least 1913 to score two runs on opening day.

Kershaw was pulled after just 84 pitches, a decision that had more to do with the 12-2 score than anything.

“No pitch count, but just kind of the way the game played out, to have him stay out there didn’t make much sense,” Roberts said.

Despite allowing only the one earned run, his career opening day ERA actually rose, to 0.99. Since 1920, the only pitcher with a better opening day ERA (with a minimum of five starts) is the immortal Rick Mahler, at 0.92.

The victory was Kershaw’s fifth opening day win, tying Don Drysdale for most in franchise history.

“This team has so much history, that any time you get to be associated with him, or Sandy [Koufax], or Fernando [Valenzuela], or any of those guys, it’s pretty special,” Kershaw said.

Home of the brave

The Dodgers were able to get Chacin out of the game in the fourth inning, but not before charging nine runs to his ledger. The Padres right-hander is the first pitcher to allow nine runs to the Dodgers on opening day since Boston Braves hurler Bob Smith got touched up in 1929.

The only difference: Smith pitched seven innings and got the win, in a 13-12 triumph over Brooklyn.

History

Yasiel Puig, batting eighth on Monday, was the first Dodger to receive the new automatic intentional walk, with two outs in the second inning and first base open. The strategy worked for San Diego as Kershaw, with two runners on base, grounded out to end the rally.

Power play

Seager more than atoned for his error with a three-run home run in the fifth inning against super utility man Christian Bethancourt.

It was the Dodgers’ third home run of the game, which was usually a good sign last year. In 2016, the Dodgers were 18-1 when hitting at least three home runs in a game. The four home runs as a team is a franchise record for opening day.

Almost paradise

Padres rookie center fielder Manuel Margot, ranked the 24th-best prospect entering the season by Baseball America, batted leadoff for the Padres on Monday, and nearly had success in each of his first two plate appearances against Kershaw.

Margot crushed a ball into the loge section down the left field line, a ball with home run distance but several feet foul. He then struck out on a curveball. In the third inning, Margot took a wide one from Kershaw and walked to first, in what would have been Kershaw’s first walk of the season.

Except that was only ball three. So after the long walk back from first base to home plate, picking back up his bat along the way, Margot then popped the next pitch up to shortstop.

Monday particulars

Home runs: Joc Pederson (1), Yasmani Grandal 2 (2), Corey Seager (1); Ryan Schimpf (1)

WP - Clayton Kershaw (1-0): 7 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 8 strikeouts

LP - Jhoulys Chacin (0-1): 3⅓ IP, 8 hits, 9 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts