SYDNEY -- The Los Angeles Dodgers may have journeyed to Australia a bit grudgingly, but when they got here they made the most of it.
The players seemed to have a good time exploring Sydney's beaches and tourist spots all week and, when it turned into a business trip, they buttoned up. The Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 on Saturday night at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
The game took place in the middle of the night in the United States, but the Dodgers may have made a few new fans Down Under. A sellout crowd gave the Dodgers a standing ovation after it was over, though it was Arizona's home game. It gives new meaning to the term "road win," Sydney being about 7,500 miles from Los Angeles.
Clayton Kershaw, making his first regular-season start since signing a record contract, looked like the old Kershaw, pitching 6 2/3 strong innings. Scott Van Slyke powered an offense that otherwise looked a bit sluggish. The Dodgers' bullpen, which was supposed to be a strength after a winter of spending, looked like one, with Chris Perez, Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen stifling Arizona in the last three innings.
Van Slyke wouldn't have even been starting if Carl Crawford hadn't stayed behind in Arizona awaiting the birth of a child. Van Slyke hit two deep drives. One looked like a sure home run that stayed in the park. The other looked like a fly ball out, but it left the yard. The wind, which whipped up after a pregame thundershower caused a delay to the start of the game, seemed to play a major part in both extra-base hits.
Van Slyke hit a towering, deep drive to left field in the second inning. Arizona left fielder Mark Trumbo tried climbing the wall to take away a home run, but a howling wind knocked the ball down and blew it 10 feet -- and off the wall -- from where Trumbo was set up. In the fourth, Van Slyke hit a slicing drive to right field that wrapped around the foul pole, 328 feet from home plate.
Kershaw threw 102 pitches, about 10 more than Mattingly had said he would, and held Arizona to a run on five hits. He struck out seven. The outing was a departure from a rocky spring for Kershaw, but hardly surprising. He had a rough spring last season and pitched a shutout on Opening Day.