Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
PHOENIX (CBSLA.com) — First impressions really do matter.
As for Ricky Nolasco, his first day on the mound — and at the plate — for the Dodgers couldn’t have left the club with much more excitement about his potential.
The newly acquired pitcher and Southern California native Nolasco surrendered just a single run and struck out five with no walks through seven innings and went 2-for-2 from the plate with an RBI as the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 6-2 on Tuesday.
The Dodgers, who were well hidden in the cellar of the NL West a month and a half ago, are now just 2.5 games out of first.
Nolasco showed good movement on his breaking ball all night, getting both Gerardo Parra and Aaron Hill to strikeout swinging in the first inning.
The Dodgers put themselves in good position in the second, with A.J. Ellis and Skip Schumaker leading off with consecutive singles. Jerry Hairston Jr., however, hit a hard grounder right to third baseman Martin Prado, who was able to turn the double play.
Nolasco, as the next batter, saved the inning when he officially introduced himself to the Dodgers by slapping an 0-2 pitch into right field, that fell in front of a diving Gerardo Parra. Ellis scored from third and Nolasco gave Los Angeles the first run of the ball game.
Andre Ethier scored in the fourth inning, after having advanced to third on a blown hit-and-run. As A.J. Ellis struck out swinging, Ethier would have been gunned down at second, but Miguel Montero’s throw from behind the plate was well off the mark, sailing into the outfield.
The throw to third was off as well, but Ethier stayed put and gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead when Aaron Hill bobbled an infield grounder by Schumaker.
As if Nolasco’s performance up until the fifth inning wasn’t good enough, the right-hander led the inning off with a double for his second hit of the game. Upon arriving at second, Hanley Ramirez got Nolasco’s attention with his “I See You” salute.
Nolasco attempted to return the honor, but abandoned the effort after botching it — twice.
By the fifth inning, Nolasco had as many hits as he had given up.
Crawford laid down a textbook bunt down the third base line to advance the runner, and beat the throw to put Dodgers on the corners before Yasiel Puig walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Adrian Gonzalez connected off Kennedy to air one deep to center field. Adam Eaton, who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, tripped on his attempt to catch the ball just in front of the wall. The ball was dropped, allowing Nolaso and Crawford to score before Puig was thrown out as he advanced to try and score at the plate.
Montero, who made the tag at the plate, gave Puig a finger-wave after the play, but it was the Dodgers who extended their lead to 4-0.
Puig had to take a deep breath in the sixth, after Kennedy brushed the Cuban rookie off the plate with a high-and-tight fastball. Kennedy, who nailed Puig near the head on June 11, ended up giving up the walk, and Puig could be seen giving Kennedy a deep look as he walked to first.
Kennedy would load the bases later in the inning, as Adrian Gonzalez hit a line drive off reliever Tony Sipp to left to tack on two more runs and give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.
Ronald Belisario finished the affair for the Dodgers, but not before pegging Montero on the leg, and being issued a warning.
The 19-game hitting streak of Hanley Ramirez came to an end after the shortstop went 0-for-4 from the plate, including being hit by Kennedy, who leads the National League with 10 hit batters, in the first inning. His last at-bat produced a hard grounder to first, which was snagged by Paul Goldschmidt to end the inning.
The win clinched the Dodgers’ fifth-straight series victory, as they go for the sweep behind Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 2.82 ERA) on Wednesday, who will face Tyler Skaggs (2-1, 3.65) in a battle of lefties.