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Justin Sellers' home run caps Dodgers' sweep of Astros

The shortstop, playing in his third major league game, hits his first home run as the Dodgers pick up a 7-0 victory.

August 14, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • Dodgers first baseman James Loney tags out Houston's J.D. Martinez to complete a double play after a line drive in the fourth inning Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers first baseman James Loney tags out Houston's J.D. Martinez… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Gobs of shaving cream were caked in Justin Sellers' sideburns, his jersey, his glove.

The Dodgers rookie had left the field minutes earlier, but the remnants of his most joyous moment in baseball still covered him like a badge of honor.

"You don't top this feeling," Sellers said.

In his third major league game, the speck of a shortstop transformed a two-thirds-empty Dodger Stadium into a rollicking place Sunday during the Dodgers' 7-0 victory against the Houston Astros.

The Bellflower native did it with a three-run home run in the sixth inning, his first homer in the stadium where as a child he watched Mike Piazza and Eric Karros. As Sellers sprinted out of the batter's box, the ball landed in the left-field seats next to the Dodgers' bullpen and the crowd roared.

"When I started rounding first base … I got the chills talking about it right now," Sellers said. "I dreamed of it as a child and for it to happen with my family here like this in my hometown, I feel so blessed."

It was one of several feel-good moments on a day when Matt Kemp tied his career high with his 28th homer and the Dodgers finally provided starter Hiroki Kuroda (8-14) with more than a smidgen of run support, securing a three-game sweep in which they outscored the Astros 14-1.

"Is this our first sweep of the season?" Kemp wondered aloud in the clubhouse.

Actually, it was their second, though it had been a while since the Dodgers swept San Diego early last month.

Sellers seemed an unlikely power source. Generously listed at 5 feet 10, 155 pounds, the prospect hit 45 homers in seven minor league seasons before the Dodgers promoted him from triple-A Albuquerque on Friday.

But before the game, Manager Don Mattingly likened Sellers to the Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Ryan Roberts, plucky players with pop.

"He's got swag," Kemp said of the heavily tattooed Sellers. "He kind of reminds me of myself."

Astros starter Jordan Lyles (1-7) had already yielded a two-run homer to Dioner Navarro in the second inning and a solo shot to Kemp in the third when Sellers stepped to the plate with two runners on in the sixth and the Dodgers leading, 4-0. Lyles left a slider up on his fourth pitch, and Sellers connected.

"I knew I got it," Sellers said.

After the ball landed in the seats inside the left-field foul pole, a fan thoughtfully dropped it into the bullpen so Sellers could have it as a keepsake. A Dodgers reliever flipped the fan another ball as thanks.

As he reached home plate, Sellers pointed to his fiancee, his daughter and his brothers in the second deck. When Sellers returned to the dugout and the cheering continued, his teammates nudged him back onto the field for a curtain call.

"Turning around and seeing the fans going nuts like that," Sellers said, "it was a very special moment for me."

The fun wasn't done. Navarro ran up behind Sellers after the game and mashed a shaving-cream pie in his face during an on-field interview, a rare moment of levity for a team 12 games out of first place.

When he returned to the clubhouse, Sellers appeared in no hurry to wipe himself clean.

"It started burning bad," Sellers said, "but it's part of being here."

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