© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
04/08/07 9:27 PM ET
Gonzalez's homers pace sweep
Wolf gets first victory; Kemp, Valdez have big days at plate
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's already pretty good and Luis Gonzalez predicts it will only get better for the Dodgers, who swept the Giants with a 10-4 victory Sunday and bring a four-game win streak into Monday's home opener. "I hope the fans are excited about us coming home," said Gonzalez, who had a flashback to his 57-homer year of 2001 with a pair of home runs and four RBIs. Gonzalez was joined by Matt Kemp and Wilson Valdez with three hits apiece in support of Randy Wolf, who outpitched $126 million ace Barry Zito for his first victory as a Dodger. Wolf overcame more outfield follies and a high pitch count to get through six innings while allowing only one gift run. That was the result of another misplay by center fielder Juan Pierre and the first-inning decision to pitch to Barry Bonds with first base open, Bonds lining an RBI single off the right-field wall after just missing a home run with a foul ball. In the second inning, Wolf loaded the bases with none out on a pair of walks and a single, but he struck out Zito and got Omar Vizquel to pull a one-hopper at third baseman Ramon Martinez, who started a 5-4-3 double play, with Nomar Garciaparra making a scoop save on Jeff Kent's throw in the dirt. "That was the biggest play of the game," said Wolf, who kept the Giants in the park after losing his first start in Milwaukee on a pair of home runs. "I didn't start on the right foot, but I battled through and started to get early outs." The win was the Dodgers' eighth straight at AT&T Park dating back to last year, their longest streak in San Francisco since winning 13 consecutively in 1976-77. With the Dodgers ahead, 2-1, the game turned on their four-run sixth inning that included Valdez's two-run triple. Gonzalez put it out of reach with a three-run blast off reliever Brad Hennessey in the seventh. He had only 15 home runs last year, so maybe Sunday's game will calm skeptics who believe Gonzalez's 39-year-old bat will not outweigh his defensive shortcomings. One week into the season and he's hitting .364. "The biggest thing for us this week was to get the first win out of the way [Wednesday]," he said. "A lot of us are trying to do too much. When you're new on a club, that's what happens. Even though you know what you've done and everybody knows what you've done, you still want to play well, and you become your own worst enemy, putting pressure on yourself to produce. "I think I'm just starting to feel comfortable out there. Juan is going to get going [now hitting .154]. He's averaged 200 hits a year and we know he'll get his. You know Nomar [.182] is going to hit. It's a good sign that we've won four straight and we haven't gotten our shortstop [the injured Rafael Furcal] back. When he comes back, it will almost be like making a trade to jump-start the top of the lineup. They'll cause a nuisance and it'll be good for us in the middle when the pitcher is paying attention to the basestealers." The nuisance in this series included the bottom of the order. Valdez and Kemp joined Gonzalez on Sunday with three hits apiece, the second consecutive game for Valdez, who has gone from being on the roster bubble to earning a home opener start. "We've been accused of trying to repeat things that are working and maybe changing some things that aren't working," said manager Grady Little, who indicated that for Monday he will stick with a lineup that has Valdez at shortstop, Martinez at third base and Kemp in right field, with Wilson Betemit and Andre Ethier on the bench. Kemp, Valdez and Martinez had two RBIs each, and Kent and Gonzalez scored three runs each. With 15 hits, the Dodgers raised their team batting average 33 points. They knocked around Zito for eight earned runs in six-plus innings. Kemp, a surprise pick for the Opening Day roster, is 6-for-13 (.462) and bidding to take over right field from Ethier. "It's what I've been saying all along: I can help this team win and I'll do whatever it takes," he said. "So far, so good. I feel pretty good at the plate. I'm working counts and taking advantage when I get a pitch to hit." Kemp also had a walk and scored twice. The only disappointment Sunday was reliever Chad Billingsley, who warmed up the previous two days without entering the game. Sunday, he allowed three runs and a homer to Pedro Feliz in two innings. Otherwise, Little couldn't find anything to complain about. "Things happened right for us at the right time and we're glad to get out of here in the position we're in," he said.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.