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04/05/10 6:10 PM ET

Kershaw, Dodgers out to stop Bucs

Jonathan Mayo/MLB.com

The old adage goes that everyone starts a new season with a blank slate. While technically that might be true, there would be few who would question that the Dodgers and Pirates opened up the 2010 season on Monday with very different perspectives.

The Dodgers were the team beginning defense of their National League West crown. The Pirates were the franchise with a record 17 consecutive losing seasons. But for one day, at least, there was a reversal of fortune. The Bucs won their fourth straight opener, though Opening Day success hasn't been a harbinger of things to come.

"Right now, everyone is poking fun at us and saying we're not going anywhere," said Pirates manager John Russell, who'll send Ross Ohlendorf to the mound on Wednesday night after Tuesday's off-day. "That's the nature of the business. Seventeen years -- they realize that. There are a lot of people who probably would like to see that continue because it's fun to write about. I think the biggest challenge is to stay focused on what we're doing."

The Dodgers will try to regroup by sending the man to the mound many felt should've gotten the Opening Day nod, Clayton Kershaw. The young left-hander was the pick of many to start on Monday, and manager Joe Torre has answered several rounds of questions regarding the order of his rotation.

"We have four guys I have confidence in," Torre said. "Sure, we are waiting for Chad Billingsley to get his confidence back. [Hiroki] Kuroda, if we can just keep him on the mound [healthy]. Padilla proved in the playoffs that when he is focused he can beat people. The other kid [Kershaw], he's just growing. It's unfair to say, 'Kershaw, lead us.' That's a little early to take it for granted."

Dodgers: Will Manny be Manny?
There's been plenty of talk about Manny Ramirez's un-Manny-like performance when he came back after his 50-game suspension a year ago. But there he was, in his 17th straight Opening Day lineup, hitting cleanup for the Dodgers. Only one other player, Ivan Rodriguez, has a longer active Opening Day streak. His was extended to 19 on Monday with the Nationals.

Ramirez went 2-for-5 on Monday with a double and two RBIs. That gives him 1,790 career RBIs, 18th on the all-time list, now just 22 behind Frank Robinson. The two-base hit was his 532nd, 31st on the career leaderboard. Nine more of those will move him past a host of Hall of Famers.

"I never felt he lost it," Torre said. "He was just never comfortable. He took a lot of strikes and swung at bad balls. If you saw the same technique but he wasn't getting the results, that's different. [Carl] Yastrzemski adapted to age. The great ones recognize when it's time to do something different."

Pirates: New guys pitch in
While Garrett Jones was the standout in the Pirates' Opening Day win, a number of newcomers also made contributions.

Akinori Iwamura, the new leadoff hitter, began the game with a walk and scored on Jones' first home run of the game. First baseman Jeff Clement, who came on strong at the end of Spring Training, singled, walked, scored a run and made a nice play on a line drive. Clement scored when another newbie, Ryan Church, laced a pinch-hit double to right-center and drove in three runs.

The new-look bullpen had more mixed results. Jack Taschner faced three batters in his Pirates debut, as the lefty gave up a hit and struck out one batter. He was replaced by D.J. Carrasco, who was charged with three runs after allowing one hit and one walk in his two-thirds of an inning. Brendan Donnelly got into trouble in the eighth, but pitched out of it to hand a lead to closer Octavio Dotel, another unfamiliar face in Pittsburgh. Dotel had a perfect ninth inning in the non-save situation, thanks only to Ryan Doumit's three-run shot a half-inning earlier.

Worth noting
The Pirates and Dodgers both had Rule 5 Draft picks on their Opening Day rosters. Outfielder John Raynor made the Bucs over utility infielder Ramon Vazquez. Pittsburgh has carried a Rule 5 selection in each of the past two seasons (Evan Meek, Donnie Veal). Los Angeles, on the other hand, don't have that kind of history with the Rule 5 Draft. Carlos Monasterios is only the fourth selection to make a Dodgers Opening Day roster since 1981. The others? Frank Lankford (1988), Jose Nunez (2001) and D.J. Houlton (2005). Monasterios pitched a scoreless inning in Monday's opener, while Raynor did not play.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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