LOS ANGELES -- Seven games into the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers' offense is plenty potent. Their pitching? It's a work in progress.
Jackson: Ahead Of Schedule
The Dodgers' pitching may be lacking so far, but the hitters are in midseason form, writes Tony Jackson. Story
Manny Ramirez homered for the first time this season, the first of four longballs by the Dodgers, and Los Angeles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5 on Tuesday to win its home opener for the third consecutive year."This is a big lift for us," manager Joe Torre said after the two-time defending NL West champions went 2-4 in a season-opening trip to Pittsburgh and Florida.Casey Blake hit a two-run drive, Matt Kemp had a solo shot and Andre Ethier added a three-run homer for the Dodgers, who beat the San Francisco Giants 11-1 in their 2009 home opener. Blake went 1-for-2 with a walk and is batting .389, carrying over his strong spring into the regular season."We want every win," Blake said. "To do it on Opening Day is a little more special."Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier homered in the same game for the second time since Ramirez joined the Dodgers in 2008.
• The Dodgers improved to 12-3 in their past 15 home games versus the Diamondbacks.
• Clayton Kershaw got his first win since July 18, 2009.
• Ian Kennedy fell to 0-4 in his career on the road. The right-hander is winless in 15 appearances (13 starts) since winning his first career start in his first major league appearance on Sept. 1, 2007.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"There's a lot to prove and a lot to go out there and do," Ethier said.Clayton Kershaw (1-0) allowed two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old left-hander struck out seven and walked five in his second start after a no-decision in the Dodgers' 4-3 10-inning loss at Pittsburgh last week."Sometimes I just get out of sync and that leads to control issues," he said.Catcher Russell Martin said no one is harder on Kershaw than he is on himself."He lost a little bit of command at the end, got in a funk," he said. "It happens."Ian Kennedy (0-1) gave up six runs and six hits over 4 1/3 innings in his first game against the Dodgers."I've got to go after guys and get ahead of them. I felt like I was pitching behind the whole time," he said. "It was obviously disappointing for me, and I'm really frustrated with it. I'm just going to work hard for my next start. Right now, I don't have anything positive to take away from this one."Ramirez's leadoff homer in the fourth -- No. 547 of his career and his 2,501st hit -- gave Los Angeles a 2-1 lead. He hit a 2-2 pitch from Kennedy halfway up the pavilion in left-center, eliciting chants of "Manny! Manny!" from the sellout crowd of 56,000. Ramirez, who has been unusually quiet around the media since spring training, responded with a brief curtain call from the top of the dugout steps."I hung a cutter right down the middle for him, and he did what he should do with it," Kennedy said.James Loney doubled before Blake went deep, reaching the first row of the left-field pavilion to make it 4-1.In the fifth, Kemp sent a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right for his third homer of the season, bringing his girlfriend Rihanna to her feet for a celebration dance behind the dugout."It was her first game," Kemp said. "She wanted to check me out."Ethier connected on an 0-2 pitch from Esmerling Vasquez in the sixth, making it 9-2. He was back in the lineup after missing four consecutive starts because of a swollen left ankle.The Dodgers led 1-0 on Martin's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first.Ramon Ortiz retired the first two Arizona batters in the seventh before giving up three runs in his second major league appearance since Oct. 1, 2007. He allowed a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds on the first pitch and an RBI single to Johnson that left the D-backs trailing 9-5.Chris Young and Chris Snyder also had RBI singles for Arizona.
Asked about reports that he and Rihanna are engaged, Kemp replied, "No, we're not engaged. That's just tabloids." ... The Dodgers improved to 28-25 in home openers since 1958. ... Center fielder Kemp was presented with his Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards on the field before the game. ... Torre on the New York Yankees' Joe Girardi getting his World Series ring as a manager Tuesday: "It's a proud moment for me, too." ... Country star LeAnn Rimes sang the national anthem and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am tossed the ceremonial first pitch wide left but first baseman Loney scooped it out of the dirt.