SAN DIEGO — For the last two months, the whispers in the Dodgers' camp have become louder and louder: Dee Gordon could be special.
Manager Don Mattingly said it. General Manager Ned Colletti said it. Gordon's teammates said it.
Saturday, Gordon showed how special he could be.
The fleet-footed 23-year-old shortstop stole three bases. He scored the Dodgers' first run. He also scored their second, which ignited a three-run surge in the third inning. And after the bullpen magnificently blew a five-run lead, Gordon singled in A.J. Ellis in the 11th inning to deliver the Dodgers a 6-5 victory that preserved their perfect record.
"He is such an exciting, high-energy guy," Ellis said. "When he gets on first base, everybody in the ballpark expects him to run. It changes the whole game."
Gordon was breathtaking on the basepaths, which he reached five times. He was three for four, including a double, and walked twice.
The first time was in the first inning, which he led off with a single to center field. Gordon stole second base, advanced to third base on a groundout by Mark Ellis and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp.
Gordon's selectivity at the plate was an area of concern heading into what is expected to be his first full major league season. But Gordon drew a two-out walk that changed the complexion of the third inning. He stole second base, after which Mark Ellis drew a walk. Gordon scored on a single by Kemp, which was followed by a two-run double by Andre Ethier.
The Dodgers were up, 4-0.
The Dodgers extended their lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning on a home run by A.J. Ellis.
But the Dee Gordon Show turned into something of a gore film for the Dodgers in the fifth inning. Their lead dwindled and eventually vanished completely as pitcher after pitcher failed to throw a strike.
Chris Capuano, who effortlessly sailed through the first four innings of his Dodgers debut, walked in a run. Jamey Wright threw eight pitches and walked in two more. Scott Elbert forced in another run with a wild pitch. When Elbert managed to get the ball over the plate, Orlando Hudson lined it into left field for his first hit of the season.
"Are we out of it yet?" A.J. Ellis said of the disastrous inning.
They might not be if Ellis hadn't noticed Hudson straying far from first base after his single. Ellis delivered the ball to first baseman James Loney, who tried to run down Hudson. Nick Hundley, who was on third base, broke for home. Loney easily threw him out.
"You can't defend it," Mattingly said of the fifth inning. "Momentum gets going and it gets a little crazy."
A.J. Ellis led off the 11th inning with a single up the middle and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Justin Sellers.
With two outs, Gordon singled sharply to right field, driving in Ellis.
After the game, Gordon was surprised to see a crowd of reporters approach him at his locker.
"Whoa," he said.
The ever-polite Gordon was reserved in his postgame comments. Referring to how he was held to one hit and no steals in the first two games, he said, "I was just trying to get my rhythm and timing right."
With the victory, the Dodgers improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1999. That team finished 77-85.