Cruz homers in 4th straight game, but Kendrick wins it for Dodgers
Howie Kendrick’s first game-ending hit for the Los Angeles Dodgers was extra sweet because it came off a former teammate and one of the best closers in the game.
Kendrick drove in two runs with a broken-bat two-run single in the ninth against Fernando Rodney to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
"I just wanted to get a pitch I could hit, something up," Kendrick said. "If anything’s down with that changeup he throws, it’s tough because it’s such a great pitch. So I had to stay honest, for the most part. My previous at-bat I kind of got outside of what I was trying to do, but that at-bat, I went back to my normal approach."
Rodney (1-1), who led the majors last season with 48 saves, was charged with his first blown save in three attempts. Justin Turner started the rally with a leadoff single, took third on Jimmy Rollins’ single and was erased in a rundown after third baseman Kyle Seager fielded Carl Crawford’s single. Adrian Gonzalez walked to load the bases and Kendrick slapped the next pitch the other way to right field.
"I knew he was going to swing, but the pitch was up a little bit in the zone and that’s why he took the ball the other way," Rodney said. "I tried to throw the sinker in to try and get a ground ball and get out of the inning, but they got me tonight. It’s only the eighth game of the season, so I’m just going to try to prepare myself for tomorrow and be ready."
It was the second walkoff win in two nights for the defending NL West champions. On Monday, Alex Guerrero gave the Dodgers a 6-5 win with a bases-loaded RBI single in the 10th inning.
"It’s just about building character in guys, and I think this says a lot about the character of the guys in here," Kendrick said. "The past couple of days we’ve had wins like this, coming from behind. And I think once you start doing that, guys realize that you really can’t give up on the game — especially early — because you’ve still got a lot of the game left.
"So even if we give up some runs early in the game, we still can inch our way back later. And the more we do come back and keep having the games that we’ve had, you get that confidence, and then it continues to overflow."
Yimi Garcia (2-0) recorded his second big league victory in as many nights with a perfect ninth inning.
Nelson Cruz homered for the fourth straight game to match the longest streak of his career and Robinson Cano hit his first home run of the season for the Mariners. Starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, struck out five and walked three.
David Huff gave up four runs and seven hits through four innings in his Dodgers debut. The left-hander, who signed as a free agent in January, made his first start since Sept. 29, 2013 with the New York Yankees.
Guerrero, who hit his first major league home run on Sunday, pinch-hit for Huff in the fourth and cut Seattle’s lead to 4-3 with a homer to left-center after a two-out walk to Joc Pederson.
But Juan Nicasio walked three of his first four batters in the fifth after relieving Huff, and Cruz scored the Mariners’ fifth run on a groundout by Willie Bloomquist.
Andre Ethier got the Dodgers a run closer in the sixth with his first homer of the season, a drive just inside the right field pole on Iwakuma’s 95th and final pitch.
Cruz, who signed a four-year, $47 million, contract with the Mariners in December after leading the majors with a career-high 40 homers last season for Baltimore, drove a 3-2 pitch over the glove of a leaping Crawford at the left field fence in the first after a two-run shot to right by Cano.
Twenty of the Mariners’ first 28 runs this season had come on homers before Rickie Weeks increased their lead to 4-1 in the fourth with a two-out RBI single.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez, whose second start of the season on Sunday at Oakland ended after five innings because of tightness in his right quadriceps, will throw a side session on Wednesday before it is determined if he can make his scheduled outing against Texas Saturday at Safeco Field. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner and five-time All-Star pitched at least 200 innings in each of the previous seven seasons. "He played catch yesterday and felt fine," McClendon said. "I don’t foresee any setbacks tomorrow, but I just want to cover myself."
Dodgers: RF Yasiel Puig did not play because of tightness in his left hamstring, following his second consecutive game with a home run. He felt discomfort rounding first base on his single in the seventh inning.
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (0-1) was 4-0 in spring training, allowing just two earned runs over 27 innings before surrendering nine runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings last Friday at Oakland in his first start of the season.
Dodgers: LHP Brett Anderson (0-0) threw 94 pitches over six innings in a no-desision at Arizona last Friday. His seven career wins against Seattle are the most he’s had against any opponent.