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Chris Hatcher earns Dodgers' first save in place of Kenley Jansen

Dodgers reliever Chris Hatcher earned his first major league save against the San Diego Padres

With Kenley Jansen in a walking boot and on the disabled list, Chris Hatcher became the first reliever called on to save a game in his place.

Hatcher did what was asked of him, recording the last three outs of the Dodgers' season-opening, 6-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Hatcher, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins in the off-season, had never saved a game in the major leagues.

"Being in Dodger Stadium like that was pretty electric," Hatcher said.

The Dodgers came into the season with Manager Don Mattingly saying matchups would dictate who pitches the ninth inning in Jansen's absence. Before the game Monday, Mattingly was vague about his bullpen plans for that day, not only with reporters, but also with his relievers, so much so that even Hatcher was surprised by his ninth-inning assignment.

"I wish I had that inclination," Hatcher said. "I thought I might go to the back end, but to the ninth inning?"

Rookie Yimi Garcia pitched a perfect seventh inning and veteran Joel Peralta a scoreless eighth.

Hatcher had a shaky start, as the second pitch he threw struck Jedd Gyorko.

"I was probably too geeked up, too excited," Hatcher said.

But Hatcher promptly forced Yonder Alonso to ground into a double play. He ended the game by striking out Clint Barmes with a 95-mph fastball.

"After I hit him, it settled me down," Hatcher said. "It sounds funny, but it kind of reminds you you're still playing a game."

A new era

As was expected, rookie Joc Pederson started in center field, with Yasiel Puig in right and Carl Crawford in left.

Mattingly wouldn't call Pederson an everyday player, but said, "You're going to see Joc a lot in center field."

Pederson prevented a likely extra-base hit by Will Middlebrooks in the sixth inning, when he made a diving catch in right-center field.

"I'm excited to see what we can do over the course of the season," Clayton Kershaw said.

At the plate, the left-handed-hitting Pederson was one for three with a double and a steal. He also drew a leadoff walk in the eighth inning and scored on Jimmy Rollins' game-deciding three-run home run.

"It's been a long process," Pederson said. "A lot of the hard work is paying off. I'm thankful for the coaches that have helped me and continue to help me. I still have a long way to go."

On days Pederson doesn't play, Mattingly said Scott Van Slyke or Andre Ethier would probably replace him. Mattingly said he prefers to keep Puig in one position rather than move him back and forth between right field and center.

Mattingly said he spoke to Ethier on Saturday about his role. Ethier said in the off-season that he wanted to be a starter this year, whether it was with the Dodgers or another team.

Mattingly acknowledged that Ethier might not be pleased to be a bench player again, but said, "Any step can change his whole situation. If one guy takes a bad step, turns an ankle, Andre's playing every day."

On time

Puig made certain he wouldn't be late for opening day this year, showing up to the Dodgers clubhouse at 7:25 a.m.

Puig was benched for the season opener last year because he was late for batting practice.

"He almost beat me here," Mattingly said.

Puig had a relatively uneventful day. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, but reached base twice, as he was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning and drew a walk in the eighth.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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