Gonzalez makes himself right at home
It took two pitches for Adrian Gonzalez to make a major difference with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gonzalez hit a three-run homer a couple of hours after arriving at his new address, giving Clayton Kershaw all the offensive support he needed in 8-2 victory over Josh Johnson and the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
"It means a lot to have Adrian here because it gives us a lot more confidence," Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp said. "I mean, this is a guy that can drive in 100-plus runs every year and is a possible 40-home run guy. He really knows the National League well and he's had a lot of success here, so he's definitely going to help us tremendously."
Los Angeles acquired Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto earlier in the day in a blockbuster trade with Boston. During a postgame press conference at home plate with Beckett and Punto, Gonzalez wore a Mickey Mouse T-shirt — even though he was 35 miles from Disneyland.
"When I heard about the trade, I had to pack really fast," he said. "I saw this T-shirt and it was like, `There couldn't be a better shirt to wear today.'"
Gonzalez, a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove first baseman, batted cleanup between Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, with Andre Ethier dropped to sixth despite his four hits and four RBI in Friday night's 11-4 win over the Marlins.
Ethier had his second straight four-hit game Saturday. He gave the Dodgers a 7-2 lead in the fifth with a leadoff homer against reliever Wade LeBlanc and added a bloop single to center in the seventh for his 10th consecutive hit, tying a club record set in 1919 by first baseman Ed Konetchy.
"He's starting to find his swing again and he looks good up there," Kershaw said. "When you have a guy like him hitting sixth, you know it's a good lineup. I'm sure Andre is fine with it. And if he keeps getting some fastballs to hit, he's going to be really OK with it because there's going to be a lot of RBI chances out there for him."
Kershaw (12-7) pitched three-hit ball over eight innings for the new-look Dodgers, who also got a home run from Mark Ellis. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner struck out eight, walked two and yielded one hit in his final six innings while lowering his overall ERA to 2.84.
"I was just trying to pound the strike zone and make their guys swing the bats so that I could get us back in the dugout and get us back out there hitting," said Kershaw, who is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts. "That's the benefit of having a lead like that. You can just go out there and be aggressive."
Johnson (7-11) threw 89 pitches in three innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits while retiring only nine of the 20 batters he faced in his shortest outing this season. The two-time All-Star has lost four straight starts for the first time in his career.
"I was terrible. That's pretty much it," Johnson said. "Physically, this was the best I've felt in probably four or five starts. But I faced their whole lineup in the first inning, and that's not a good sign. I don't want to pitch like that."
Johnson used up 45 pitches during the Dodgers' four-run first, which began with doubles by Ellis and Luis Cruz. Kemp singled Cruz to third and Gonzalez sent a towering drive deep into the lower seats in the right-field corner on an 0-1 pitch.
"It was definitely exciting to see him hit that ball. It definitely gave us some motivation and pumped us up," Kemp said. "We were swinging the bats well in the first inning and Johnson dug himself a little hole. He made a couple of mistakes and some of us made him pay for it with some good, timely hitting."
Ellis homered to left-center on the right-hander's second pitch of the second inning, and A.J. Ellis increased the lead to 6-2 with an RBI single in the third.
Gorkys Hernandez doubled in the top of the first and scored on Jose Reyes' groundout. Giancarlo Stanton led off the Marlins' second with his 28th homer and seventh in 10 games, a drive deep into the left-field pavilion estimated at 452 feet.
Beckett is slated to make his Dodgers debut Tuesday night at Colorado. ... Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley, who came out of Friday's series opener after 3 1/3 innings and 58 pitches because of inflammation in his elbow, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He is 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA over his last seven starts. ... Punto made his Dodgers debut in the eighth as a pinch hitter for Kershaw. He drew a walk and scored on a single by Cruz. ... Gonzalez became the sixth player to homer in his first at-bat with the Dodgers since they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, and the first to do it since Juan Rivera on July 15, 2011. ... Rivera started in LF in place of Shane Victorino, scratched because of back tightness. Rivera had been platooning at 1B with James Loney, who was dealt to the Red Sox. ... Gonzalez, born in San Diego, played in 45 games at Dodger Stadium during his five seasons with the Padres and batted .212 with five homers and 21 RBI in 165 at-bats. The Marlins made him the first overall pick in the 2000 draft, but traded him six days later to Texas for reliever Ugueth Urbina. ... Johnson has allowed a homer in four consecutive starts, tying a career worst. He also did it late in the 2006 season. ... Dodgers pitchers have allowed first-inning runs in each of the first five games on this homestand.