LOS ANGELES (AP) — Josh Johnson needed 45 pitches to get out of the first inning. By then, the damage was done. Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw saw to that.
Johnson lasted only three innings for the Miami Marlins on Saturday night in his shortest outing of the season, giving up six runs and 10 hits while retiring only nine of the 20 batters he faced in an 8-2 loss to the Dodgers. The key blow was a three-run homer by Gonzalez on the second pitch he saw after joining Los Angeles in a blockbuster trade with Boston earlier in the day.
“JJ was off with everything,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “His velocity was down and he struggled. He couldn’t find the plate — and every strike he threw was in a bad location. When you’re going to face a team of that caliber and a lineup like that, you’ve got to bring your best stuff. If not, you’re going to get killed and you’re going to have a very early departure.”
Johnson (7-11) fell behind 4-1 in the first after Mark Ellis and Luis Cruz led off the inning with doubles. Matt Kemp singled Cruz to third and Gonzalez sent a towering drive deep into the lower seats in the right-field corner on an 0-1 pitch.
“I felt a lot of adrenaline, and the guys made it a little easier on me — first and third with no outs,” Gonzalez said. “My mentality was just to try to get the runner in from third. I saw the ball halfway up in its trajectory, and it was a great feeling.”
Ellis homered to left-center on Johnson’s second pitch of the second inning, and A.J. Ellis increased the lead to 6-2 with an RBI single in the third.
“I was terrible. That’s pretty much it,” said Johnson, a two-time All-Star who has lost four consecutive starts for the first time in his career. “Physically, this was the best I’ve felt in probably four or five starts. But I faced their whole lineup in the first inning, and that’s not a good sign. I don’t want to pitch like that.”
Kershaw (12-7) struck out eight, walked two and yielded one hit in his final six innings. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts, lowering his overall ERA to 2.84.
“I was just trying to pound the strike zone and make their guys swing the bats so that I could get us back in the dugout and get us back out there hitting,” said Kershaw, who is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts. “That’s the benefit of having a lead like that. You can just go out there and be aggressive.”
Gorkys Hernandez opened the game with a double and scored on Jose Reyes’ groundout. Giancarlo Stanton led off the Marlins’ second with his 28th homer and seventh in 10 games, a drive deep into the left-field pavilion estimated at 452 feet.
“He’s the one positive. At least every two or three innings we can enjoy watching this kid at the plate,” Guillen said. “He missed almost two months and he still has almost 30 home runs. That’s the only thing we really look forward to when we come to the ballpark — to watch him.”
Gonzalez, a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove first baseman, batted cleanup between Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. Andre Ethier was dropped to sixth despite his four hits and four RBIs in Friday night’s 11-4 win over the Marlins.
“It means a lot to have Adrian here because It gives us a lot more confidence,” Kemp said. “I mean, this is a guy that can drive in 100-plus runs every year and is a possible 40-home run guy. He really knows the National League well and he’s had a lot of success here, so he’s definitely going to help us tremendously.
“It was definitely exciting to see him hit that ball,” he added. “It definitely gave us some motivation and pumped us up. We were swinging the bats well in the first inning and Johnson dug himself a little hole. He made a couple of mistakes and some of us made him pay for it with some good, timely hitting.”
Ethier led off the fifth against Wade LeBlanc with his 14th homer, then hit a bloop single to center in the seventh for his 10th consecutive hit — tying a club record set in 1919 by first baseman Ed Konetchy.
“He’s starting to find his swing again and he looks good up there,” Kershaw said. “When you have a guy like him hitting sixth, you know it’s a good lineup. I’m sure Andre is fine with it. And if he keeps getting some fastballs to hit, he’s going to be really OK with it because there’s going to be a lot of RBI chances out there for him.”
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