SAN DIEGO -- After floundering in Boston in 2011 and playing only 31 games last year due to injuries, Carl Crawford is off to the fast start he knew he needed to have with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Crawford led off with an opposite-field homer and A.J. Ellis added a two-run shot to back Chad Billingsley's strong season debut and lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-3 victory against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.Crawford homered to left field on the second pitch from Eric Stults (1-1). He tripled off the left-field wall with one out in the fifth and scored on Mark Ellis' single through a drawn-in infield to make it 4-1."I just want to play baseball," said Crawford, who came over from the Red Sox along with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett on Aug. 25. "That's all I want to do, man. I'm not trying to prove nothing to me, you, Boston, whoever. I just want to play good baseball this year."Crawford had reconstructive elbow surgery two days before the trade and didn't get to play for the Dodgers last year.He's hitting .464 (13 of 28). This was Crawford's fourth consecutive game with multiple hits and his sixth in seven starts this season."You never know how it's going to go. You hope for the best," he said. "The last two years the way things were going for me it's kind of a surprise, but a good surprise. It's definitely fun. Even if I wouldn't have had a fast start like I'm having now, everything is just good for me right now."Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he certainly didn't expect Crawford to hit this well at the start of the season."I've seen how good Carl has been in the past and the last two years have been spotty as far as injuries and things like that, but I think we pretty much knew what he could do," Mattingly said.Billingsley (1-0) opened the season on the disabled list after bruising his right index finger during a bunting drill on March 15. He held San Diego to one run and five hits in six innings, with three strikeouts and three walks."It definitely felt great to be back out there," said Billingsley, who went on the disabled list Aug. 25 last year with pain in his right elbow. "C.C., the first at-bat of the game, he gets us a one-run lead and gave me a little cushion early."Billingsley "was sharp with his fastball," San Diego's Yonder Alonso said. "He was controlling the strike zone early in the game. He was throwing to both sides and did a good job of keeping the ball down."A.J. Ellis homered to left with one out in the second. Luis Cruz was aboard on a single.Brandon League earned his third save in as many chances, but only after allowing two runs on three hits in the ninth. The second run that inning scored when Chris Denorfia struck out but reached on a passed ball by A.J. Ellis.The Padres have given up 13 homers in eight games."Eric hung in there but they didn't miss with a couple of mistakes," Padres manager Bud Black said.San Diego's Nick Hundley had four hits to tie his career high.Stults allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, struck out four and walked none. Every Dodgers regular except Gonzalez had at least one hit off Stults.Billingsley's only rough inning was the fourth. Will Venable drew a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI double by Denorfia. Yonder Alonso walked but was erased on a double play and Alexi Amarista flied out to end the inning.Denorfia started in place of left fielder Carlos Quentin, who was hit by a pitch on the right forearm in San Diego's 9-3 win Tuesday.
Black said Quentin was still a little sore Wednesday. ... After sitting out the last two games, Cruz singled in the second to snap an 0-for-17 slump to start the season. ... Andre Ethier has a hit in his first seven games this season to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Padres 3B Chase Headley took batting practice for the first time since breaking his left thumb in a spring game on March 17. He said he felt no pain. Headley will likely go on a rehab assignment in the minors before being activated. ... The series concludes Thursday night when Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (1-0, 0.00 ERA) faces RHP Jason Marquis (0-1, 3.00). ... Black had Mark Kotsay pinch-hit for Amarista in the eighth. Kotsay remained in the game at 1B, forcing Black to move Alonso to 2B in the top of the ninth. After Gonzalez singled to right past the diving Alonso, he and 3B Jedd Gyorko swapped positions. They switched back after Ethier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
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SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 10: Chad Billingsley #58 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning of a...