Matt Kemp keeps the power turned on for Dodgers
The sequence is becoming increasingly familiar with each passing night.
Matt Kemp crushes the ball over the wall. Matt Kemp rounds the bases. Matt Kemp looks to the sky as he steps on home plate, both of his index fingers pointed toward the heavens.
Kemp went deep for the fourth consecutive game Friday night, his fifth home run of the infant season opening the floodgates for a seven-run outburst in the first two innings that lifted the Dodgers to a 10-8 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Kemp became the first Dodger to hit home runs in his first four games of the season at Dodger Stadium and Andre Ethier added a couple of long balls, including a second-inning grand slam, as embattled opening-day starter Vicente Padilla pitched seven innings to earn his first victory.
It wasn’t all good news. Manny Ramirez was removed from the game in the top of the fourth inning because of a tight right calf. Ramirez, who was already scheduled for a day off on Saturday, left the game with the Dodgers up, 7-0. And relievers Russ Ortiz and Ramon Troncoso were shaky in the ninth inning, as the Giants scored five runs to make it interesting.
However long Ramirez might be out, Kemp and Ethier’s recent form indicate they are capable of shouldering the middle-of-the-order duties.
Garret Anderson, who dressed one empty locker stall away from Kemp and has spent plenty of time talking to the budding superstar, said he was well aware of Kemp’s physical tools and exuberant personality even before he became his teammate.
But Anderson said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that the celebrity-dating center fielder might be as hard-working as he is naturally gifted.
“You see his bubbly personality, you might think he’s got his hands in everything, but he comes focused to play every night,” Anderson said. “To me, you can see that just in his preparation. When you see a person preparing the way he does, that means they want to get better. He’s not content with being where he’s at. He wants to keep pushing himself. It’s very cool to see.”
Kemp put the Dodgers on the scoreboard in the first inning, driving in Rafael Furcal and himself by smashing a fastball by Todd Wellemeyer over the right-field wall. Ethier immediately increased the lead to 3-0, lining a low pitch by Wellemeyer over the same wall.
Ethier punished Wellemeyer again in the second inning, as he hit the first grand slam of his career to center to put the Dodgers up, 7-0.
Padilla held the Giants to four runs and struck out seven in what was by far his longest start. His two previous outings lasted a combined 8 2/3 innings.
Aubrey Huff was the only Giant to reach base in the first four innings, drawing a leadoff walk in the second.
The Giants finally touched Padilla in the fifth inning, which Mark DeRosa and Bengie Molina started with back-to-back singles. They were knocked in on a single by Juan Uribe to close the gap to 7-2.
Later in the inning, Padilla did something he was known to do in his pre-Dodger days: He hit Aaron Rowand in the head.
Rowand was taken to a nearby hospital to be examined.