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DODGERS 4, ARIZONA 2

It's a great homecoming for Jon Garland

The Granada Hills native wins his Dodgers debut, throwing seven strong innings against the Diamondbacks, the team he played for only a few days ago.

September 04, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ | ON THE DODGERS

Jon Garland might as well have still been pitching for the visitors.

Walking the third batter he faced in his tenure with the Dodgers, Garland was booed by the fans at Dodger Stadium.

He gave up a run-scoring single to the fourth and was booed some more.

Nice fans, huh?

But by the end of Thursday night, Garland managed to win over the crowd that he used to be a part of as a kid, overcoming a rough start to toss seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 victory over the club that he was a part of only three days earlier, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With Garland retiring the last 14 batters he faced and Manny Ramirez hitting a fourth-inning home run, the Dodgers opened up a 5 1/2 -game gap in the National League West on the second-place Colorado Rockies, who received an 8-3 thumping by the New York Mets.

Their lead over the third-place San Francisco Giants widened to 6 1/2 games, as Giants ace Tim Lincecum was outdueled by Pedro Martinez of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Garland (9-11), who was acquired in a trade from the Diamondbacks on Monday night, called pitching for the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium "a dream come true."

The 29-year-old right-hander grew up in Granada Hills. His grandfather was a Dodgers season-ticket holder and he said he witnessed Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. He played in the City Section title game at Dodger Stadium in 1995 and 1996 but didn't pitch in either game for Granada Hills Kennedy High.

Asked how many tickets he left for family members and friends on Thursday, Garland replied, "I cut the phone off. I told people if they want, come and pay for it."

Perhaps his friends were the ones booing. Garland will earn at least $6.25 million this season.

Garland was shaky in the early innings, something he blamed on the "extra adrenaline" rushing through his system.

He gave up a run in the first on a single to Mark Reynolds and another in the third on a solo home run by Stephen Drew.

"It took us about three innings to get on the same page and get a rhythm going," said catcher Russell Martin, who called the game.

By the fourth inning, Garland had a lead, as Ronnie Belliard knocked in two runs on a couple of singles and Ramirez homered.

Belliard pushed in the Dodgers' final run in the sixth inning, as he grounded into a forceout that scored Ramirez.

Garland was cruising.

"Once he settled in, those innings were pretty quick," Manager Joe Torre said.

The sinkerball-throwing Garland didn't get a single fly-ball out, as the home run by Drew was the only ball the Diamondbacks hit in the air to the outfield while he was on the mound.

Garland said he wanted to pitch into the eighth inning.

"I even said something to Joe, but I didn't want to go too far too soon with him," Garland said.

George Sherrill pitched a scoreless eighth to set up closer Jonathan Broxton's 31st save.

The night was a big one for slumping first baseman James Loney, who was two for four with a run.

Loney's two hits were only a small part of what he did.

He made a spectacular dive to knock down a line drive by Alex Romero in the third inning, touched first base with his left hand while the ball was still in his right, then fired the ball to second base to complete an inning-ending double play.

He also moved Casey Blake from second to third in the fourth inning on a fly ball to right -- Blake later scored -- and made a slide at second base in the sixth that broke up a double play that would have prevented the Dodgers' last run from scoring.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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