x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

MLB: San Francisco Giants start championship defence with loss to Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw overshadowed big-spending Los Angeles' new signings as the Dodgers ran out 4-0 winners over the defending World Series champions.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Carl Crawford slides for home as San Francisco Giants' pitcher Santiago Casilla leaps in the air.
Los Angeles Dodgers' Carl Crawford slides for home as San Francisco Giants' pitcher Santiago Casilla leaps in the air.

The Los Angeles Dodgers rolled out their new big-name signings for their season-opener - but it was pitcher Clayton Kershaw who stole the show in who stole the show against the San Francisco Giants.

The 25-year-old ace leftie tossed a complete-game shutout and smacked his first career home run as the Dodgers registered a 4-0 win over the defending World Series champions.

On a day when hall of famer Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch, Kershaw enhanced his position as the current golden arm of the franchise with a stellar performance.

"You got a sense on this day, with the first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax and the last pitch by Clayton Kershaw, it's almost like a passing of the torch today," A.J. Ellis, the Los Angeles catcher, told reporters.

"He's the most special player I've ever played with."

The Dodgers have other special players, too, and the season-opener was a chance to show off the team's $215 million dollar payroll, not to mention their newly renovated stadium.

Los Angeles has made waves with big-time roster moves, signing starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract in December and also adding young Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin.

Those acquisitions came on the heels of Los Angeles making blockbuster trades last season to acquire the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.

But the Dodgers' most important piece remains Kershaw, who was drafted by the team in 2006 and won the Cy Young Award in 2011. He showed why is so valuable with an outing that included seven strikeouts and just four allowed hits.

In the eighth inning, he blasted a solo home run off reliever George Kontos over the centrefield wall to break up a scoreless game.

"He's an athlete," said San Francisco's Buster Posey, last year's National League Most Valuable Player.

"The ball ran back to the middle a little bit, and he was all in."

With their expensive roster, the Dodgers are looming as the biggest threat to the Giants in the NL West but Kershaw wasn't getting carried away.

"It means we're 1-0 and we've got 161 more (games)," Kershaw said. "Can't get too excited but it's a good way to start, for sure."

A pair of home runs from 20-year-old Bryce Harper led the reigning NL East champions the Washington Nationals to a 2-0 home success over the Miami Marlins.

Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Dan Uggla all homered as the Atlanta Braves toppled the Philadelphia Phillies 7-5, while a grand slam from Collin Cowgill in the seventh inning helped the New York Mets to their 11-2 trouncing of the San Diego Padres.

The Chicago Cubs edged the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1, with a two-run homer from Anthony Rizzo.

Elsewhere in National League action, the Milwaukee Brewers sneaked a 5-4 home win after 10 innings against the Colorado Rockies, courtesy of Jonathan Lucroy's sacrifice fly, while the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the St Louis Cardinals 6-2.

For the first time, the opening day featured an interleague fixture, and after 13 innings it went the way of the Los Angeles Angels who toppled the Cincinnati Reds 3-1. Chris Iannetta, who homered in the third inning, also hit the two-run single to clinch victory.

American League champions the Detroit Tigers were 4-2 winners against the Minnesota Twins, while the Boston Red Sox romped home 8-2 against the New York Yankees, and the Kansas City Royals went down 1-0 in Chicago to the White Sox.

Franklin Gutierrez's two-run single in the fifth inning delivered a 2-0 win for the Seattle Mariners against the Oakland Athletics.

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