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Carl Crawford gets the Dodgers going in 4-3 win over Padres

Outfielder hits a leadoff home run and continues his torrid hitting to back up Chad Billingsley, who throws six strong innings in his season debut.

April 10, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

SAN DIEGO -- Carl Crawford came to the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox last year as a condition, as in, if you want Adrian Gonzalez, you also have to take Crawford.

But what at first appeared to be a costly compromise is starting to look like a bargain for the ages.

Crawford continued his early-season rampage in the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday at Petco Park, as he was two for four with a home run, a triple, a walk and two runs.

BOX SCORE: Dodgers 4, Padres 3

Chad Billingsley, who was activated from the disabled list, was the primary beneficiary of Crawford's latest All-Star-caliber performance, as he held the Padres to a run over six innings to earn a victory in his season debut.

Crawford is hitting .464, which tops the National League.

This was beyond anything the Dodgers could have realistically expected when they acquired Crawford in August as part of a four-player package from the Red Sox.

Slowed by wrist and elbow problems, Crawford batted .260 in his two seasons with the Red Sox. Days before his trade to the Dodgers, he underwent season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery.

Even in spring training, the Dodgers didn't know exactly what they had in Crawford, who is owed $102.5 million over the next five seasons. With the condition of his throwing arm still in question, they didn't know if he would be ready for opening day.

But since the season started, there have been few reminders of everything Crawford has endured over the last two years.

He led off the game Wednesday by clobbering an off-speed pitch by starter Eric Stults over the left-field wall to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

“The past two years, they way it's gone for me, it's kind of a surprise, but a good surprise," Crawford said.

Crawford had said he was miserable during the two years he spent in Boston.

“It's definitely fun, even if I didn't have the fast start,” he said. “Everything is good now.”

Catcher A.J. Ellis increased the lead to 3-0 in the second inning with a home run to left field.

The home run by Ellis was preceded by Luis Cruz's first hit of the season, a sharp single to right field.

Cruz, who was out of the lineup for the last two games, was hitless in his previous 17 at-bats. The hit was the first of two for Cruz.

Crawford tripled off the wall in left-center field in the fifth inning and scored on a single by Mark Ellis. The Dodgers were up, 4-1.

When Crawford went up to hit with men on second and third and two outs in the sixth inning, the Padres' decision was an easy one. They walked him intentionally, setting up a disputed inning-ending strikeout by Mark Ellis.

The cushion was more than enough for Billingsley, who missed his first turn in the rotation because of a bruised index finger on his pitching hand.

Billingsley was eligible to be activated Wednesday because his placement on the disabled list was backdated to March 22, when the Dodgers were still in spring training.

Billingsley gave up five hits and walked three. But the only hit of consequence came in the fourth inning, when Chris Denorfia doubled in Will Venable.

But Denorfia never scored, as Billingsley walked Yonder Alonso and got Jedd Gyorko to ground into a double play. Billingsley got Alexis Amarista to fly out to left field to leave Denorfia stranded at third base.

Closer Brandon League's third save was by far his scariest, as he was charged with his first two runs of the season in the ninth inning, the second on a third-strike passed ball. But with two men on, League ended the game by getting Alonso to fly out to left field.

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