SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers rode strong early offense and saw off a late rally from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a 7-5 win to sweep the major league season-opening series at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The Dodgers won the opening day clash 3-1 on Saturday night on the back of Clayton Kershaw’s pitching and the hitters looked like they had finished the job when they gave the National League West champions a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning.
The D-Backs rallied late on in the four-hour contest, however, and scored five runs in the last two innings, including a blockbuster two-run homer from Mark Trumbo in the ninth, to leave Dodgers manager Don Mattingly furious at his bullpen.
“The first (game) I really enjoyed, this one not quite as much,” he told reporters.
“It was kind of a frustrating one, we walked seven guys in the last four innings, we gave them a chance to get back into the game.
“We talked about this last year a lot, you don’t play like this and win, you may win and get to the playoffs but you don’t ‘win’ like this. This ends up getting us in trouble.”
South Korean lefthander Ryu Hyun-jin took the win after giving up just two hits in five innings, illustrating that the big-budget Dodgers will not be entirely reliant on the pitching of $30 million-a-season Kershaw this year.
An RBI from centerfielder Andre Ethier opened the scoring for the second day in a row in a front of an enthusiastic crowd of 38,079, his single allowing Yasiel Puig to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Cuban Puig, who went 0-5 on Saturday, helped extend the lead with a single in the third that sent Ryu scurrying to the home plate and speedster Dee Gordon made it 3-0 on the next at bat on an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly.
D-Backs starter Trevor Cahill was pulled after giving up eight hits in four innings but the Arizona bullpen were unable to stem the flow of runs.
Gonzalez scored off a Mike Baxter groundout RBI in the fifth before Juan Uribe celebrated his 35th birthday by smashing a line drive double which came off the leftfield wall and Ethier stretched the lead to 5-0.
Puig, who mixed a good hitting performance with some mistakes in his base running, made it 3-3 for the day in the sixth with a double just inside the leftfield foul-line which sent Gordon sprinting home for his second run.
A.J Ellis made it 7-0 off Gordon’s sacrifice fly at the top of the seventh and Arizona finally got on the scoreboard through
Martin Prado off a Trumbo single in the eighth.
A.J. Pollock and Aaron Hill added two more runs off a Prado single in the ninth to make the score more respectable before Trumbo blasted the second homer of the series to give the D-Backs brief hope of a remarkable comeback.
“This event was outstanding, really cool, the crowds were great,” said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.
“There were a lot of Diamondback fans here. It’s just too bad we couldn’t win a game for them.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston