04/13/09 10:22 PM ET
Dodgers showing offensive might
Los Angeles (5-3) vs. San Francisco (2-5), 7:10 p.m. PT
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Or maybe a 45-year-old opposing pitcher brought out Monday's 11-run assault against the Giants.
The Dodgers have Tuesday off to ponder how to keep it going when the series resumes Wednesday night, with San Francisco's Matt Cain opposing 21-year-old Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
In two of the last three games, the Dodgers have pounded Randy Johnson in an 11-1 win and beat up Arizona fill-in starter Yusmeiro Petit and reliever Billy Buckner in an 11-2 win Saturday. In their other six games, they haven't scored more than five runs.
"It's nice to get off to this kind of start to a homestand," said manager Joe Torre. "I hope we can make something out of it."
Andre Ethier, who slugged two homers and drove in four runs Monday, said there was no offensive panic.
"Donnie [Mattingly, hitting coach] just told us not to worry about hitting home runs," said Ethier. "Home runs will come. He wants us to spray the ball around. I don't think we were pressing or ever worried about scoring runs. With our lineup, one through eight, we're going to score runs. Manny and those guys will come around."
Manny Ramirez still has no home runs this year ("Yes, I have -- Spring Training. It counts in the mind," he said), although he flirted with one by taking Johnson to the warning track in right-center Monday. He also doubled and walked twice, giving him 11 walks in eight games.
Torre before Monday's game rejected the notion that Ramirez is being avoided by opposing pitchers a la Barry Bonds earlier this decade.
"Bonds' situation was pretty obvious," Torre said. "I remember Mike Scioscia walking him in the World Series with nobody on base. Manny's not a free swinger. It's not blatant. Manny's got a good approach at the plate. He takes a lot of close pitches.
"I haven't seen [that Ramirez is frustrated]. He gets into the game. No question, he's got personal things to work on, like hits and home runs. But he gets frustrated with his swing when he's fouling off pitches he thinks he should be hitting."
Chad Billingsley, recipient of Monday's windfall, said the early cushion made pitching easier and he expects it to become standard operating procedure considering the names in the lineup.
"Our lineup is capable of doing unbelieveable things," said Billingsley, who singled and put down a sacrifice bunt in the six-run fourth inning. "Our team is very capable of putting up a lot of runs and it's great to be pitching with those guys scoring."
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
In his first start of the year, Kershaw pumped fastballs and the occasional changeup for three innings against the Padres before making the adjustment that found his curveball. By then, his pitch count was so high he had to leave after only five innings, having thrown 105 pitches. He allowed one run on two hits, but walked four while striking out six. He needs to be more efficient in his pitch count or the bullpen will pay the price.
Coming off a 7-1 victory in his 2009 debut against Milwaukee, Cain will try to beat the Dodgers for the first time. Cain, who allowed just four hits and one run over seven innings against the Brewers, is 0-6 in 11 career starts against the Dodgers. He was 0-3 last season when, typically, he suffered some hard-luck losses. In six starts against the Dodgers in 2008, the power-pitching Cain posted a 2.79 ERA. The Dodgers hit just .257 against him. His final two starts of the year came against the Dodgers. He pitched a combined 13 innings and allowed two earned runs but came away with a no-decision and a loss. Tidbits
Orlando Hudson is the eighth Dodger to hit for the cycle. ... Johnson came into Monday's game 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA lifetime at Dodger Stadium. ... With 11 strikeouts Monday, it was Billingsley's third career start with double-figure strikeouts. His careeer high is 12 done twice last year. ... Matt Kemp has hit safely in all eight games. ... Dodgers relievers Will Ohman and Guillermo Mota turned in a scoreless inning each Monday. ... Often-injured infielder Tony Abreu is on crutches at extended Spring Training after badly spraining an ankle. Tickets
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Thursday: Dodgers (Eric Stults, 1-0, 1.69) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 0-1, 9.00), 7:10 p.m. PT
Friday: Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 1-1, 3.65) vs. Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 0-1, 9.64), 7:10 p.m. PT
Saturday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 1-0, 3.00) vs. Rockies (Aaron Cook, 0-0, 9.72), 12:40 p.m. PT
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.