Adrian Gonzalez is riding a home-run wave as Dodgers head to Arizona

Adrian Gonzalez is riding a home-run wave as Dodgers head to Arizona
Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez hits his second home run of the game during a 7-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Talk about a blue streak.

Adrian Gonzalez, the first player in major league history to hit five home runs in his team's first three games, will play his next series at Chase Field.

Gonzalez has homered 20 times in his career at the hitter-friendly home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, where the Dodgers will open a three-game series Friday night. Nowhere has Gonzalez homered more as a visiting player.

The first time the Dodgers were there last season, Gonzalez homered in all three games.


Gonzalez's first victim in that series was Brandon McCarthy, who is now part of the Dodgers rotation. McCarthy became a beneficiary of Gonzalez's power Wednesday, when the first baseman's three home runs more than made up for an uneven pitching performance.


"He's as locked in as you could possibly be," McCarthy said. "Everything's squared up and he's on time. It's a nightmare for any pitcher to face."

The major league leader in runs batted in last season, Gonzalez is known for these kinds of runs.

The games at Chase Field last April were part of a four-game stretch in which he homered in every game. Later that month, he homered in three consecutive games.

"I'm a streaky hitter," Gonzalez said. "When I'm feeling good, I hit like this — well, maybe not like this, but close."

Manager Don Mattingly knows the feeling. As an All-Star first baseman with the New York Yankees, Mattingly homered in eight consecutive games to tie a major league record.

Mattingly said he didn't become home-run conscious and doesn't believe Gonzalez is, either.

"It's more like, 'Ride the wave,' not 'Hit the homer,'" Mattingly said.

For his part, Gonzalez said he doesn't consider himself a home-run hitter, but rather a line-drive hitter who occasionally clears the outfield wall.

Gonzalez's teammates marvel at his ability to contextualize his at-bats and plan for them accordingly.

It's probably no coincidence that all five of Gonzalez's home runs came with the bases empty.

Gonzalez homered in each of his first three at-bats Wednesday, and that presented him with an opportunity in the sixth inning to become the 17th player in history to hit four home runs in a single game. He was urged on by the fans at Dodger Stadium, who roared as he stepped into the batter's box.

But the timing wasn't right. McCarthy had allowed the Padres to score twice in the top of the inning and the Dodgers' lead was down to 6-4. There were two outs, the Dodgers had runners on the corners and the Padres had a left-hander on the mound in Frank Garces.

"I definitely wasn't thinking of hitting another one against a lefty," Gonzalez said. "I was trying to stay on the ball and hit something hard up the middle. I told myself, 'Don't try to do too much.'"

The result was a run-scoring single to center field. The Dodgers' bullpen, which melted down the previous night, now had a three-run cushion.

"There's so much discipline in his at-bats," McCarthy said. "He knows exactly where the barrel is on every swing. It's very hard to fool him."

Particularly when he is thrown only fastballs, which is what the Padres elected to do.

His home run Tuesday night came on a first-pitch fastball by Joaquin Benoit. All three of his home runs Wednesday came on fastballs by Andrew Cashner.

Gonzalez's performance was critical in helping the Dodgers win two of three games against the Padres, as his teammates batted a combined .207 in the series.

"You look at a home run hitter, you look at guys who hit a lot of home runs and strike out a lot and don't really do anything else," Mattingly said. "Adrian can really hit. He knows what he's doing up there. He's just that guy who understands what he's doing, a guy a lot of our guys can learn from."

Dodgers make trade

Days after the National League West rival Padres traded for All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, the Dodgers made a bullpen addition of their own, acquiring right-hander Ryan Webb from the Baltimore Orioles.

Webb is no Kimbrel. The 29-year-old was recently removed from the Orioles' 40-man roster, even though he was guaranteed $2.75 million this year. Webb pitched in 51 major league games last season and posted a 3.83 earned-run average.

In exchange for Webb, minor league catcher Brian Ward and the 74th overall pick in the upcoming draft, the Dodgers sent the Orioles minor leaguers Chris O'Brien and Ben Rowen.

Up next

Brett Anderson (1-3, 2.91 ERA in 2014) will face the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Anderson (9-7, 4.01) at Chase Field at 6:30 p.m. On the air: TV: SportsNet LA. Radio: 570, 1020.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez