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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don Mattingly’s phone buzzed with text messages of good luck to the new Los Angeles Dodgers manager on opening day. The man who had groomed him for the job didn’t check in.
No slight intended, though. Retired manager Joe Torre was in Hawaii on Thursday, having talked to Mattingly a few days earlier.
Now it was time for his protege to go to work on his own.
“No Vince Lombardi today,” he said. “We’ve been laying out what we expect from guys all (spring) camp long.”
And the Dodgers lived up to it in a 2-1 win over the rival San Francisco Giants.
Clayton Kershaw struck out nine in seven dominant innings and Matt Kemp scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by catcher Buster Posey in the sixth inning, making Mattingly the first rookie manager to beat the defending World Series champions on opening day since Lou Piniella debuted with the Yankees on April 8, 1986.
“It feels good. You’re not going to get too giddy,” he said, a book entitled “Wisdom” by UCLA coaching legend John Wooden sitting on his desk.
Kershaw (1-0) allowed four hits and walked one. The 23-year-old struck out three of the four batters he faced in the first, giving him 500 strikeouts in his career.
“I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it,” he said, explaining his goal is “keep getting better. If you don’t get better, you’ll get worse.”
Rod Barajas, replacing the departed Russell Martin as the Dodgers’ starting catcher, was impressed with Kershaw’s even temperament.
“Clayton is special. He’s got a gift,” Barajas said. “He just continues to develop and gets better every time he goes out there. He makes a couple bad pitches and he’s able to stay at the same level.”
Jonathan Broxton, back in the closer’s role after losing it in the second half of last season, gave up a one-out homer to Pat Burrell in the ninth but hung on for the save after a scoreless eighth by Hong-Chih Kuo.
“It’s better than a walk. You never want to walk anybody,” Broxton said about the homer. “I felt fine. Last year is last year. I ain’t going to talk about it.”
Tim Lincecum (0-1) gave up an unearned run and five hits in seven innings for San Francisco. The two-time Cy Young Award winner struck out five and walked three in his third consecutive opening-day start.