OK, so the Dodgers weren’t facing Roy Halladay or Ian Kennedy.
Instead they were up against Brad Lincoln, winner of one game in his previous five starts, and the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates near the end of dismal seasons for both clubs.
But that didn’t detract from the giddiness the Dodgers felt Sunday after pummeling Lincoln and Pittsburgh’s bullpen as they routed the Pirates, 15-1, for a third consecutive win that lifted the Dodgers back to .500.
While Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (11-10) held Pittsburgh to one run and four hits in five innings, his teammates indulged in a hit parade on fan appreciation day at Dodger Stadium.
— The Dodgers led 11-0 after three innings.
— Their 15 runs tied a season high first set June 27, when the Dodgers defeated the Twins in Minnesota, 15-0. Coincidentally, the winning pitcher that day was Billingsley.
— Every Dodger in the starting lineup had at least one hit, including Billingsley.
— Matt Kemp, maintaining his bid to be the National League’s most valuable player, had three hits, including his 34th home run.
— James Loney, who slugged three-run home runs in each of the previous two games, had a career-high five hits and drove in three runs.
— Rookie Jerry Sands had four hits, including a three-run home run, and four runs batted in.
With a big lead, Mattingly removed Kemp in the six inning, with Kemp drawing a standing ovation and chants of “MVP!”
“I thought it was the right thing to do with him on fan appreciation day,” Mattingly said. “Matty plays every day and I wanted to do that for him.”
Kemp said hearing the chants “was a new experience for me, definitely like it.” And he said that for the whole team, “it was just one of those days where everybody was seeing the ball well, getting good pitches to hit and putting good wood on it.”
The Dodgers jumped all over Lincoln (1-3), starting with the speedy Dee Gordon, who led off the game with a hit to the gap in right-center field for a stand-up triple.
Gordon scored when Jamey Carroll grounded out, and Kemp followed by hitting Lincoln’s first pitch over the center-field fence. Loney, Aaron Miles and Sands all singled to produce another run.
Billingsley helped his cause in the second inning when he singled and scored on Kemp’s single, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
Juan Rivera singled and Lincoln was replaced by Aaron Thompson, who promptly gave up a double to Loney that drove in Kemp and Rivera.
And after Miles walked, Sands blasted Thompson’s first pitch into the left-field pavilion and the Dodgers led 9-0. Rivera also had a two-run single in the third inning.