Dodgers rough up Giants in home opener
April 14, 2009
LOS ANGELES ” Orlando Hudson grinned like a Little Leaguer as he held up a keepsake ball with his rare accomplishment written in black ink on it.
Hudson impressed fans of his new team by hitting for the cycle, Andre Ethier drove in four runs with a pair of homers and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Randy Johnson and the San Francisco Giants 11-1 to win their home opener on Monday.
“Dodger fans can’t expect this every day,” said Hudson, who agreed to a free-agent deal in February after three seasons in Arizona. “The cycle is very hard. First of all, getting a hit is hard.”
Johnson, Hudson’s former teammate in Arizona, lost at Dodger Stadium for the first time in his 22-year career, falling to 7-1 in just his second start in Los Angeles since 2004. He was denied his 296th career victory, although the 45-year-old left-hander earned his 4,800th strikeout in the third inning against James Loney.
“It was their first home game, so I was kind of trying to keep them at bay a little bit and get us off to a good start,” he said. “Obviously, I just continued with what’s transpired on this road trip.”
The Giants were swept in a three-game series at San Diego before coming to Los Angeles.
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Hudson completed the majors’ first cycle since Sept. 1, 2008, with a sixth-inning triple off Brandon Medders. He slid into third ahead of a throw by right fielder Randy Winn, got up and pointed to the sky.
“My man, Mr. Jackie Robinson, took care of me,” he said, referring to the Dodger who broke major league baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947. “It’s a heck of a day. I didn’t know I had the cycle going on.”
Neither did some of his teammates, including Ethier and Juan Pierre.
“It’s a great accomplishment and shows the rarity of it,” Ethier said.
Hudson singled in the first, homered in the third and doubled in the fourth ” all off Johnson ” and became the first Dodger since Wes Parker on May 7, 1970, and the ninth in franchise history to complete the cycle.
“Congratulations to Orlando,” Parker said in a statement issued through the Dodgers. “I hope he appreciates he’s in a very unique club. I can’t believe only two people in 51 years (in Los Angeles). It’s great fun to have a game like that. He’ll be on a high for two weeks.”
Hudson is the first Dodger to do it at Dodger Stadium; Parker accomplished the feat at New York’s Shea Stadium. Hudson’s parents, wife and his young daughter and son were in the stands.
Chad Billingsley (2-0) allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out 11 and walked none in the first home-opener start of his career.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” he said. “It was great to get out and jump on these guys.”
Johnson (0-2) gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings, struck out five and walked three.
Hudson’s second homer of the season gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. The Giants tied it on Travis Ishikawa’s RBI single in the fourth.
Both of Ethier’s homers came on the first pitch. His first came off Johnson and gave the Dodgers the lead for good at 2-1. Rafael Furcal added a two-run single with two outs in Los Angeles’ six-run fourth.
“After you throw 10 pitches to the guy before (Russell Martin), you’re not expecting that he’s going to swing at the first pitch,” Johnson said. “It’s not brain surgery. It hasn’t been since I started pitching. I just go out there and pitch the best I can. Sometimes it works, but it obviously didn’t go well today for us.”
Hudson’s RBI double made it 5-1. Johnson then intentionally walked Manny Ramirez and loaded the bases with another walk to Loney before he was pulled.
Martin followed with a two-run single off Merkin Valdez, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 7-1.
They added a run in the sixth on Loney’s RBI single, and tacked on three more in the eighth on Ethier’s second homer.
Billingsley improved to 4-0 in 11 career games against the Giants.
“He hit the spots, he knows where he’s throwing the ball, he knows where to get you out and he goes and attacks that area,” San Francisco catcher Bengie Molina said. “He has four pitches that can get you out at any time, so he just went out there and mixed it up and beat us.”
The Dodgers were introduced numerically instead of by the starting lineup, so Ramirez, who wears No. 99, could trot out last from the left-field pavilion. The crowd of 57,099 ” the largest in stadium history ” saved its loudest cheers for the slugger, who can opt out of the two-year deal he signed in March at season’s end.
Ramirez nearly homered in his first at-bat, sending Johnson’s first pitch deep to right field before Winn snared it at the wall. Ramirez was 1-for-2 with two walks, one intentional, and he scored a run.
Notes: The Giants haven’t drawn a walk in their last three games. … Vin Scully threw out the ceremonial first pitch to manager Joe Torre. Scully is beginning his 60th season as the voice of the Dodgers. “In all these years, I have needed you a lot more than you’ve needed me, and now it’s time for Dodger baseball!” he told cheering fans from a podium on the field. … The Dodgers improved to 27-25 in home openers since moving to Los Angeles, and 3-5 in their last eight openers at home, with the other wins also against the Giants.