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Giants in awe of Kershaw

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POSTED April 2, 2013 1:26 a.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After an erratic first inning, Matt Cain settled down and tossed six scoreless innings for the San Francisco Giants.

It still wasn’t enough, not on a day when Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw outdueled him on the mound and at the plate.

Kershaw launched his first career home run to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning, then finished off a four-hitter Monday that led Los Angeles to a 4-0 win on opening day.

“That’s definitely what you expect when you go out there and face Kershaw,” Cain said. “You know he’s going to bring it.”

Cain made his first career opening day start for the defending World Series champions. He allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked one. The right-hander threw 93 pitches, including 32 in the first inning alone, when he hit Mark Ellis.

“He gave us what we needed and he put up some zeros,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But we just couldn’t get a run there for him.”

Cain had won his four previous starts against the Dodgers since Aug. 1, 2010, going 4-0 with a 2.0 ERA in 10 starts.

“Kershaw moved the ball around and changed speeds, and Cain did the same thing,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “He went in and out and threw some off-speed pitches for strikes in big situations and was able to get some swings.”

Cain figures always having to face an opponent’s No. 1 or 2 pitcher has only toughened him up as a starter.

“It’s great,” he said. “You know what the guy on the other side is going to do. But you can’t worry too much about the other guy on the mound. You’re expected to go out there and throw the ball real well, and that’s what you try to do every time out.”

Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run in an opener since Bob Lemon for Cleveland in 1953, according to STATS.

Kershaw struck out seven, walked none and retired World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to end it.

The former Cy Young winner began the day as a career .146 batter with only one extra-base hit in 261 at-bats. But he sent the first pitch from George Kontos (0-1) over the center-field wall, triggering a standing ovation and prolonged roar from the sellout crowd of 53,000.

After high-fiving his teammates, Kershaw tipped his cap from the dugout.

Kershaw became the first pitcher in the majors to homer on opening day since Joe Magrane of St. Louis in 1988, and the first Dodgers pitcher to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965.

“I never knew what that felt like,” Kershaw said.

Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, wearing his vintage No. 32 jersey, threw out the ceremonial first ball. In 1964, Koufax pitched the first opening-day shutout at Dodger Stadium.

Then, another Dodgers lefty with a great curveball dominated.

Kershaw pitched his sixth career shutout, tossing 94 pitches in his third consecutive opening day start. He has led the majors in ERA each of the last two seasons, and there is speculation he will soon be rewarded with a long-term contract worth about $200 million.

While Kershaw (1-0) was resting after his home run, the Dodgers broke it open.

Carl Crawford followed with a double in his Dodgers debut and later scored on a wild pitch by Santiago Casilla for a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers got their last two runs on RBI groundouts by Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis.

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