MLB SEASON OPENERS: Posey, Giants fall to Dodgers, 4-0

Leesburg native Buster Posey went 0-for-3 with one strikeout in Monday’s loss to the Dodgers.

Leesburg native Buster Posey went 0-for-3 with one strikeout in Monday’s loss to the Dodgers.

LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw was as shocked as anyone. Known as one of the best pitchers in baseball, Kershaw delivered in stunning fashion with his bat in a season-opening win over the rival San Francisco Giants.

“I had no idea it was going to go out or not because I’ve never hit one like that before in game,” Kershaw said. “But what an awesome feeling.”

Kershaw’s first home run and complete-game shutout sparked the Dodgers to a 4-0 victory over the defending champions Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw smacked the first pitch he saw from reliever George Kontos over the center-field wall to break up a scoreless contest. It was only the second extra-base hit of Kershaw’s career in 263 career at-bats. A .146 lifetime hitter, Kershaw had a double last season.

“I figured I’d better swing at the first pitch because I’d already struck out twice,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw retired Giants’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval on a grounder for the final out in the ninth to cap the four-hit victory. He struck out seven and walked none on 94 pitches.

Despite his heroics, the 25-year-old lefty tried to temper some of the post-game excitement.

“It means we’re 1-0 and we’ve got a 161 more (games),” Kershaw said. “Can’t get too excited but it’s a good way to start, for sure.”

With Dodger legend Sandy Koufax on hand to throw at the opening pitch and Kershaw on top of his game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked about Kershaw being the “next Koufax.”

“I know (former Dodgers manager) Joe (Torre) made comparisons pretty early with Clayton and Sandy,” Mattingly said. “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it didn’t flash in my mind in the sixth when he was rolling along. It probably isn’t fair to Clayton to throw that on him right now.

“But really for this day and Sandy throwing the opening pitch out … it made me think about it during the game.”

Lee County native and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey started the season off 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Posey did throw out the only attempted steal by the Dodgers when Carl Crawford took off for third base in the first inning.

The Dodgers added three more runs after the Kershaw homer. Carl Crawford, who went 2-for-4 in his Dodgers debut, doubled to left field, took third on Mark Ellis’ bunt single, then scored on a wild pitch by Giants reliever Santiago Casilla. Andre Ethier and catcher A.J. Ellis added RBI groundouts.

Kontos, who took the loss, was charged with three runs and three hits in one-plus inning.

Kontos’ rough outing overshadowed a strong performance by San Francisco starter Matt Cain. The right-hander struck out eight in six scoreless innings. He gave up four hits and one walk. Cain threw 93 pitches, almost a third of those coming in the first inning, before being relieved by Kontos in the seventh.

Sandoval and Angel Pagan both went 2-for-4 and provided all of the Giants’ hits.

Harper, Strasburg lead Nationals in opener

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals’ cover boys delivered on Opening Day, as Bryce Harper hit solo homers in his first two at bats and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg scattered three hits through seven innings in a 2-0 victory Monday against the Miami Marlins.

The game drew 45,274 fans, the second-biggest regular-season paid crowd in the history of Nationals Park. And the red-clad fans were not disappointed as former first overall draft picks Harper and Strasburg delivered at the plate and in the field.

“I went up there and had good at bats,” Harper said of the two homers off Ricky Nolasco (0-1). “The first (homer) was very cool. It was a great moment and a great experience. I tried to react. He carved me up last year.”

Strasburg (1-0) said, “Bryce is awesome. He plays hard every day.”

Strasburg added he was aided by nifty defensive play by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning to get out of a jam.

“It was an amazing play and one (Zimmerman) has done time and again,” he said.

Washington reliever Tyler Clippard came on in the eighth in place of Strasburg, who threw just 80 pitches, and gave up a leadoff walk to Donovan Solano before retiring the next three batters.

“I am glad they are on our team,” Clippard said of Harper and Strasburg.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of Harper, “He is a special player. He showed that today.

In the ninth, new Nationals pitcher Rafael Soriano, the closer for the New York Yankees last season, retired Juan Pierre, Chris Coghlan (strike out) and Giancarlo Stanton (strikeout looking) to seal the win.

The Marlins, who lost two starting pitchers to the disabled list on Sunday, began the season under first-year manager Redmond.

Miami began the day with the youngest pitching staff in the National League at 26.62 years, while a baserunning miscue cost it a possible run against Strasburg.

“Two bad pitches there for home runs and that was the difference in the game or otherwise we would still be playing,” Redmond said. “We had some opportunities to score.”

Miami starter Nolasco went six innings and allowed three hits and two earned runs with two walks and five strikeouts. He threw 86 pitches, 48 for strikes, before giving way to Chad Qualls in the seventh.

Red Sox 8, Yankees 2: Shane Victorino drove three and Jose Iglesias recorded three hits and an RBI as visiting Boston held off New York in the season opener for both clubs.

Dustin Pedroia added two hits and an RBI in support of Jon Lester (1-0), who struck out seven while allowing two runs on five hits in as many innings. Jacoby Ellsbury capped his three-hit day with a two-run single in the ninth to help put it away for the Red Sox.

CC Sabathia (0-1) needed 102 pitches to get through five innings and was charged with four runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out five for the Yankees. Francisco Cervelli drove in both runs as New York opened the campaign with All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the disabled list.

Iglesias gave Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a base-loaded infield single to deep short in the second inning. Sabathia got Ellsbury to ground into a fielder’s choice but Victorino followed with a two-run single to left and Pedroia slapped a single to right to cap the four-run frame.

The Yankees threatened in the third but Jackie Bradley Jr., making his first major league start, caught a long drive from Robinson Cano with a twisting, over-the-shoulder grab on the warning track to end the inning. New York finally struck in the fourth on Cervelli’s two-run single to left but could not close the gap.

Cubs 3, Pirates 1: Jeff Samardzija struck out nine over eight innings of two-hit ball and Anthony Rizzo blasted a two-run home run as visiting Chicago spoiled Opening Day in Pittsburgh.

Samardzija (1-0) matched a career high with eight scoreless frames to outduel A.J. Burnett, and Kyuji Fujikawa recorded the final out to earn the save in his major-league debut after Carlos Marmol allowed the Pirates to break up the shutout and bring the winning run to the plate.

Burnett (0-1) struck out 10 before leaving with two outs in the sixth after Welington Castillo’s RBI double to right. He was charged with three runs on six hits and made one major mistake, leaving a first-pitch fastball over the heart of the plate for Rizzo to launch to center field in the first.

After allowing Neil Walker’s single to begin the second, Samardzija retired 14 straight batters before Andrew McCutchen’s two-out double in the sixth. The right-hander struck out the last two hitters he faced.

Castillo and Starlin Castro each had two hits for the Cubs, who won on Opening Day for the first time since 2009.

Tigers 4, Twins 2: Justin Verlander pitched five shutout innings and Prince Fielder had a pair of hits and an RBI in 30-degree temperatures as visiting Detroit edged Minnesota in the opener for both clubs.

Verlander (1-0) struck out seven, walked two and allowed three hits to notch his first win in six opening day starts. Omar Infante added two hits and knocked in a run while Phil Coke retired the final two batters for the save.

Joe Mauer registered two hits and scored a run for the Twins, who have lost five consecutive openers. Minnesota starter Vance Worley (0-1) gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings, with three strikeouts and one walk.