LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig’s homer stole the show early against his former Los Angeles teammates. But Joc Pederson had the last word for the Dodgers.
Pederson hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, pointing into the Dodger dugout and thumping his chest as he left the box, triggering a huge celebration.
His big blow rallied the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Monday night in Clayton Kershaw’s season debut.
“It was a nice outcome,” Pederson said. “I got it pretty good.”
Raisel Iglesias (0-3) walked pinch-hitter David Freese leading off before Pederson homered over the right field wall. The Reds had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning on former teammate Matt Kemp’s RBI single with two outs.
“When it comes to in between the lines and winning a ballgame, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side,” Pederson said of facing his ex-teammates.
Retired broadcaster Vin Scully had Dodger Stadium buzzing with a surprise pregame appearance to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
Kershaw then gave Los Angeles a lift, even though the three-time Cy Young Award winner didn’t factor into the decision. Kershaw had been bothered by left shoulder inflammation in spring training. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked none.
“For me, it was a success overall,” Kershaw said. “Got some swings and misses, got some behind-the-count easy outs. Curveball I thought was a lot better than it had been in rehab starts so I’ll take it for the first one.”
Closer Kenley Jansen (1-0) got the win after giving up Kemp’s go-ahead single.
Puig made his presence felt immediately, hammering a two-run shot — his 50th career blast at Dodger Stadium — in the first off Kershaw that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. Puig received a mix of boos and cheers.
“There’s a lot of emotions on both sides,” Kershaw said. “I wish I could have done anything but give up a homer to Puig in his first at-bat, but he put a great swing on the ball. I always feel like that favors the hitter when they know you.”
Puig and Kemp are just two of five former Dodgers on the Reds’ roster.
“Strange,” Pederson said about facing so many ex-teammates. “I got to first base and (Kyle) Farmer was there. Some really close buddies.”
The Dodgers lost NL home run leader Cody Bellinger in the third when he got drilled on the right kneecap by a 95 mph pitch from Luis Castillo, who waited to catch Bellinger’s eye at first and signal an apology before he resumed pitching.
“He’s a very good pitcher,” Kershaw said, “but you can’t miss by that much, that was really bad.”
Bellinger was knocked down and eventually hobbled to first base. He stayed there until Castillo got the last two outs of the innings via strikeout. Bellinger was replaced by Alex Verdugo in right field.
X-rays after the game were negative.
“Still definitely hurts but nothing serious,” Bellinger said. “Wake up tomorrow and see how it feels.”
Bellinger leads the NL with nine homers, 22 runs, 22 RBIs and a .424 batting average.
His ground-rule double into the right field corner left the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the first.
Castillo gave up a bases-loaded walk to A.J. Pollock that tied it at 2 in the fifth.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto had the night off before striking out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. … LHP Alex Wood (lower back) joined the team in LA from Goodyear, Arizona, where he has been rehabbing.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) makes a minor league rehab start Wednesday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He’ll toss four innings and 60 pitches, followed by an inning in the bullpen. … LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and felt good.
The Dodgers have homered in 30 consecutive home games dating to Aug. 21. They are two away from tying the Colorado Rockies’ major league mark of homering in 32 straight home games from April 19-July 3, 1999.
Curt Casali became the first Reds catcher to start a game hitting leadoff since 1900.
He was hitless with a strikeout in his first three at-bats before doubling leading off the ninth. He scored on Kemp’s single.
The Dodgers played a highlight video featuring Puig, Kemp, Farmer and Wood before the game. Puig, Kemp and Farmer doffed their caps in appreciation of the applause.
“These Dodgers fans are special,” Kemp said. “Yasiel and I have been here a long time and we know a lot of people out here. They showed mad love. Yeah, it was special, especially being here on Jackie Robinson Day.”
Puig said, “There was a lot of fans at the game that were yelling my name. The ovation makes me happy.”
Scully joined the widow of his friend Jackie Robinson to honor the player who broke baseball’s color barrier during Robinson’s centennial birthday celebration.
Robinson’s 96-year-old widow, Rachel, was joined by the couple’s daughter, Sharon, and son, David, on the field. Scully greeted Rachel Robinson with a kiss after being introduced to the crowd, with Scully drawing the loudest cheers in a rare public appearance.
Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (0-0, 0.82 ERA) won his only career start against LA at Dodger Stadium last May.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (2-1, 4.76) has a 1-1 record with 4.61 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati. He’s struck out 16 and walked three.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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