Interesting approach the Dodgers are using to get the new season underway: score early, get terrific starting pitching, hang on.
It has worked in four of their five games and might have worked in all five if Brian Wilson hadn’t come up with a bum elbow.
They pulled it off again on a chilly Wednesday night in San Diego, scoring three times in the first inning and riding an excellent first effort from right-hander Dan Haren for a 5-1 victory over the Padres.
Haren was just shy of brilliant in his initial outing as a Dodger, going six strong innings. He gave up one run and four hits. He retired nine consecutive batters to start, did not issue a walk and struck out six.
The Dodgers will head home with a 4-1 record, and with their offense not yet a well-oiled machine, their starting pitching has shined. In five outings, their rotation has a combined earned-run average of 0.91, with seven walks and 30 strikeouts in 29-2/3 innings.
As they have done in every game this year, the Dodgers scored first, staking Haren to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against right-hander Tyson Ross.
Carl Crawford opened the game with a double and Yasiel Puig was safe on a sacrifice bunt attempt when Ross threw the ball wide for an error. Hanley Ramirez doubled in both runners.
Adrian Gonzalez singled to center field to drive in Ramirez to complete the rally.
The Padres scored in the fourth inning when Everth Cabrera singled and A.J. Ellis was called for a catcher’s interference that sent Seth Smith to first base. Yonder Alonso singled to drive in Cabrera, but Haren struck out Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable.
The Dodgers added to their lead in the fifth inning when Ramirez walked, stole second and scored on an Andre Ethier single, and in the eighth on a Dee Gordon run-scoring double.
The Dodgers bullpen had been a little rocky early, but Paco Rodriguez, Jamey Wright, J.P. Howell and Chris Perez held back the Padres over the final three innings.
The middle of the Dodgers’ batting order -- Ramirez, Gonzalez and Ethier -- seemed to get it going. They had four hits Wednesday, equaling their combined total in the four previous games.