Los Angeles

Gonzalez Hits Home Run Hat Trick In 7-4 Victory Over Padres

Adrian Gonzalez hit a historic home run hat trick with three dingers, and the Dodgers beat the Padres 7-4 in the series finale.

It was a record-breaking night for Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez on Wednesday. Fittingly, the man who calls himself "Titan" hit three titanic home runs and set an MLB record in the process with five long balls in his team's first three games.

Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and hit three solo shots off of Padres starter Andrew Cashner as the Dodgers crushed the Padres 7-4 in the series finale.

"I'm still not a home run hitter," said Gonzalez sarcastically. "I'm just trying to hit line drives."

In addition to the major league record, the Mexican-American slugger became the first Dodger since 1914 to start the season with home runs on three consecutive days. It was the first three-homer performance of his 11-year career and just the 11th time in Dodgers history a player has hit three home runs in a single game.

"Adrian's seeing the ball good," added Mattingly. "He needs to ride this wave and not let this get away. He needs to ride this streak as long as he can."

Gonzalez, who was awarded his second career Silver Slugger award before the game, is on fire against his former team. He came into the game with a .328 average and 10 home runs, and is batting a jaw-dropping .769 with 5 home runs and 7 RBIs in the series.

"I definitely don't know the pitchers, but I know how Darren Balsey likes to preach and what he preaches," said Gonzalez about his success against his former team. "He likes to preach fastballs down, so I come up ready to hit fastballs."

Brandon McCarthy (1-0) looked good in his Dodgers debut as he went five innings for Los Angeles allowing four runs on nine hits with nine strikeouts. His only blemishes on the night were a first inning home run to Justin Upton and a sixth inning blast to Will Middlebrooks.

"It was really loud," said McCarthy of the atmosphere in his debut. "It was the loudest I've ever heard a ballpark. It was awesome."

The Padres scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game as Upton's two-run blast put the Dodgers in an early hole.

"I got it where I wanted it, but he did a good job of getting in there and turning on it," added McCarthy of Upton. "He's a good hitter and he knows what he's doing."

Thanks to Gonzalez, the Dodgers would rally. After a first inning bomb, Gonzalez led off the third with another homer that extended LA's lead to 5-2. He hit the home run hat trick in the 5th inning when he led off with a mammoth 415-foot blast into the right field pavilion.

"I wasn't sure about the second one," joked Gonzalez. "Matt [Kemp} almost caught it. Thankfully, he didn't."

After a long curtain call, Gonzalez received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he stepped to the plate with runners on the corners in the sixth. Padres' manager Bud Black opted for a new strategy to get Gonzalez out so he called to the pen for left-hander Frank Garces. Righty or lefty, it didn't matter as Gonzalez singled home Justin Turner to give LA the 7-4 lead.

Cashner (0-1) suffered the loss in his season debut surrendering six runs (five earned) on eight hits with six strikeouts. The hard-throwing starter normally pitches well against the Dodgers as he entered the game with a 1.53 ERA in 17 previous starts against them.

"He's a good hitter," said Cashner of Gonzalez. "I felt I had a great game plan against him, but I just didn't execute. Three mistakes to the same spot, I've got to be better than that, mix in some off speed pitches, especially when I'm not locating my fastball."

There was a bizarre play in the second inning.  After McCarthy worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game at 2-2, Yasiel Puig came to the plate two batters later and grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice double play.

Puig hit a chopper to Middlebrooks who stepped on third for the second out of the inning. He promptly threw home, but his throw was wild, allowing Joc Pederson to score as the ball rolled to the backstop. Puig saw the play and immediately ran to second, but Jimmy Rollins who was on second himself, and didn't see that Middlebrooks had stepped on the bag. He yelled at Puig to run back to first, but it was too late as Cashner caught him in a run down for the very different double play.

"It was mass confusion," smiled Rollins as he talked about the play. "We had our own 'Not Top 10' out there. But it didn't hurt us tonight and we were able to swing the bats, well - Adrian swung the bat and he was real big for us."

In Don Mattingly's new "closer by committee" bullpen, Joel Peralta closed the door on the Padres by striking out Matt Kemp for his first save of the season.

Game Notes:
Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Grienke were presented with their Golden Glove awards before the game. Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 10 games, which dates back to last season.

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