Dodgers Tie NL Home Win Record
Having already shattered the Los Angeles record for most consecutive home wins at the start of a season, the Dodgers claimed the team’s franchise record and tied a National League record Sunday with a 7-3 victory over San Diego. By sweeping the Padres in the four-game, weekend series, the Dodgers boosted their Dodger Stadium mark to 10-0. Only the 1918 Giants, who won their first 10 games at the Polo Grounds in New York, the 1970 Cubs, who won their first 10 at Wrigley Field, and the 1983 Braves, who went 10-0 at Fulton County Stadium, started off with as many consecutive home triumphs. The 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers won their first nine straight, and the Dodgers of 1969 held the previous Los Angeles record with six consecutive opening triumphs. The Tigers captured 12 straight at Bennett Park in 1911.
“If you do something like that, then you can say to yourself that you’ve done something and you don’t have to do it anymore,” LA Manager Joe Torre said on the Dodgers’ website. “We just want to win. So whatever the number is, it is. But we’re just trying to extend it, and we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves right now. I don’t think there’s any question that most clubs like to win at home. If teams are under .500 at home, then it’s certainly not a good sign because you don’t figure to be overwhelming on the road.”
On Sunday, the Dodgers scored three times in the first when Juan Pierre singled, Orlando Hudson doubled Pierre home, Andre Ethier doubled in Hudson, and James Loney then singled in Ethier. They clinched the victory with a four-run, two-out burst in the sixth keyed by Hudson’s two-run double and RBI singles by winning pitcher Chad Billingsley and Loney. Billingsley improved to a league-leading 5-0 by allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked two in lowering his ERA to 2.21. Pierre, who upped his average to .393, singled twice in four at bats and scored twice, Hudson doubled and singled in three trips with three RBI, and Juan Castro singled twice and scored to pace LA’s 10-hit assault against three pitchers. Pierre started in left for Manny Ramirez, Castro started at short for Rafael Furcal, Mark Loretta played third for Casey Blake, and Brad Ausmus provided catcher Russell Martin with a rest.
The Padres did not made it easy for the first place Dodgers (18-8) earlier in the series. After beating San Diego 8-5, Thursday in the opener, LA eased by on walk-off 1-0 (Friday) and 2-1 victories. On Friday, Martin drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk from reliever Duaner Sanchez in the bottom of the ninth to lift LA. The catcher, who came in hitting .198, checked his swing on a 3-and-2 pitch. Clayton Kershaw bounced back from his atrocious outing last Sunday against Colorado to pitch seven shutout innings in lowering his ERA to 5.46. He yielded four hits, struck out three, and walked two. Ronald Belisario, Will Ohman, and Jonathan Broxton finished up with Broxton improving to 3-0. Unlucky Padre Starter Jake Peavy allowed two hits in eight innings and did not allow a runner to get past first until the ninth.
Ethier was the hero on Saturday, belting a bases-loaded single off the right field fence in the bottom of the tenth. The right fielder’s blow came off reliever Luke Gregerson with no outs. “You know the pressure is on them, so you can’t force the situation,” Ethier explained on Dodgers.com. “A sacrifice fly can win the game, and you just don’t want to hit on the ground. Fortunately, I got a pitch (2-and-1 fastball) I could drive.” Starter Randy Wolf went 5 1/3 innings and yielded a solo homer by Edgar Gonzalez in the first and a single to Adrian Gonzalez. For the second successive night, the Dodger bullpen did not allow a run. Ramon Troncoso (1 1/3), Cory Wade (2), and Guillermo Mota (1) combined stifle the Padres on one hit through the final 4 1/3 innings, with Mota (2-0) notching the win. The Dodgers collected 10 hits, including eight singles, and left 11 on base. Martin paced the attack with three singles, and Furcal and Ethier had two each.
Dodger Chatter: According to Dodgers.com, Ramirez missed Sunday’s game because of hamstring tightness. The Dodgers improved to 6-2 against the Padres this season. They lead the second-place Giants by 4 ½ games and will try to extend their unbeaten record at home against the Diamondbacks Monday and Tuesday. Ramirez ranks fifth in NL hitting with .349 and Hudson ninth at .336. Pierre doesn’t have enough at bats to be considered. Jeff Weaver, summoned from Albuquerque, replaces James McDonald in the starting rotation. McDonald, 1-1 with an 8.16 ERA, walked 14 in 14 1/3 innings and allowed 13 hits. Reliever Hong-Chih Kuo was placed on the disabled list with a left elbow strain. The Dodgers hope to accomplish the one thing the other top-starting home teams did not – finish higher than second and win a title. The 1946 Dodgers (96-58) tied for the pennant with St. Louis and then placed second after losing a playoff. The 1918 Giants finished 71-53 and in second place10 ½ games behind the Cubs, the 1970 Cubs (84-78) placed second four games behind the Pirates, and the 1983 Braves also placed second, stumbling down the stretch to finish 88-74 and three games in back of the Dodgers. Yes, the 1911 Tigers (89-65) also finished second, placing 11 ½ games back of the world champion Philadelphia A’s and Connie Mack.
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