LOS ANGELES (AP) — Zack Greinke pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning of his splendid Dodgers debut, leading Los Angeles to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Andre Ethier homered and Los Angeles got RBI doubles from Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez. Greinke, who signed a $147 million, six-year contract to join the Dodgers during the offseason, struck out six and did not walk a batter in 6 1-3 innings.
Greinke (1-0) was on a limited pitch count after throwing only 13 innings during spring training, but he made his 92 pitches count. He yielded just a two-out single to Garrett Jones in the second inning and a one-out single to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh.
Offensively for the Dodgers, Ethier hit his first home run of the season, Kemp got his first hit (his RBI double) and Gonzalez had his first RBI. All three hits came against Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez (0-1).
Greinke began his Dodgers career by retiring the first five batters he faced. With two outs in the second, he gave up a hard one-hopper by Jones that second baseman Mark Ellis couldn’t handle. The play was ruled a hit. Greinke responded by setting down the next 14 hitters in a row until McCutchen lined a single to center with one out in the seventh. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly swiftly made his way to the mound to take the ball from Greinke, who missed a couple of spring starts because of inflammation in his elbow and the flu.
Along the way, Greinke got help from his defense, particularly from shortstop Justin Sellers in the fifth inning. Sellers robbed Jones of a hit with a diving, backhand stab of a sharp grounder, bouncing up and throwing out Jones at first.
Brandon League pitched the ninth for his first save of the season, completing the two-hitter.
Sanchez was no stranger to the Dodgers hitters, pitching against them for the 18th time in his career. All 17 previous appearances came with the Giants.
Like Greinke, Sanchez retired his first five hitters. But the sixth batter in the lineup, Ethier, drove a 2-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers.
Los Angeles couldn’t muster much else off Sanchez in the early innings. Greinke reached base on an error in the third but was erased when Carl Crawford hit into a force play. Crawford was thrown out trying to steal, ending the inning. Gonzalez hit a soft liner to shallow left field for a two-out single in the fourth, but was stranded.
In the fifth, A.J. Ellis doubled with one out, and one out later Greinke singled to left. Ellis, though, was held at third, and Crawford struck out when fooled by a slow curveball out of the strike zone, ending the inning.
The Dodgers finally broke through again in the sixth and knocked Sanchez out of the game. After Mark Ellis’ leadoff walk, Kemp and Gonzalez had back-to-back RBI doubles to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, spelling the end of the night for Sanchez. He went five-plus innings, allowing three runs and six hits.
After Greinke came out in the seventh, Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen and League combined to hold the Pirates hitless for the final 2 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley (bruised finger) made his last rehab start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday and is slated to come off the disabled list and start next Wednesday in San Diego. Billingsley missed the final five weeks of the 2012 season with an injured elbow. … Kemp’s double ended an 0-for-12 slide to start the season. … Pirates catcher Russell Martin returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time since playing his final game with Los Angeles on Aug. 3, 2010. Martin, who spent the past two years with the Yankees after the Dodgers let him go following the 2010 season, received mostly boos from the crowd when he came to bat in the second inning. … The Pirates went homerless for the fourth game in a row and remained the only National League team without a home run this season.