Ricky Nolasco Shines in Dodger Debut. Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 1

Ricky Nolasco threw seven innings of one-run ball, got two hits, drove in a run and scored a run in his Dodger debut. (Image source: Los Angeles Times at http://www.trbimg.com/img-51dce772/turbine/la-sp-ricky-nolasco-carl-crawford-20130709/600)

Ricky Nolasco was even better than advertised, winning his first game in a Dodger uniform and even helping out his own cause in the process.

The right hander escaped the cellar-dwelling Miami Marlins over the weekend when the Dodgers sent minor league pitchers Steven Ames, Josh Wall and Angel Sanchez to Miami in order to acquire the veteran Nolasco, and it appears the Dodgers have a piece for their rotation that could help them continue to close ground and overtake the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

In addition to a seven inning, one run performance in which he was absolutely brilliant, Nolasco also got two hits including a double that went to the right-center field wall, drove in a run, and scored a run.

Nolasco started up the Dodgers’ scoring in the top of the second.  A.J. Ellis singled to left and Skip Schumaker singled to right.  A Jerry Hairston double play resulted in two outs but moved Ellis to third, then Nolasco hit a solid single to right field to score Ellis and get the Dodgers out to a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers added a second run in the fourth inning.  Andre Ethier led off with a single, stole second and then took third on a wild throw.  Skip Schumaker then hit an RBI ground-out to the middle of the infield, plating Ethier and increasing the Dodger lead to 2-0.

Ricky Nolasco led off the top of the fifth with a double that rolled all the way to the wall.  Carl Crawford dropped down a bunt that moved Nolasco to third and was awarded a bunt single when the throw to get him was late.  Puig walked, then Adrian Gonzalez hit a fly ball to center field that should have been easily caught by center fielder Adam Eaton.  Eaton, however, dropped the ball and two runs would score.  Gonzalez was credited with a sacrifice fly and one RBI on the play and wound up on second base.  Yasiel Puig was caught attempting to score on the play, giving Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero a slight forearm shiver as he came up on the plate.  Nolasco and Crawford scored on the play to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

The Dodgers chased Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy in the sixth inning.  Kennedy, who’s last seven starts had been on the road, never looked comfortable on the Chase Field mound and issued walks to Crawford and Puig to load the bases to end the night.  Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson brought in Tony Sipp to face Adrian Gonzalez, and Gonzalez promptly banged a base hit down the left field line, scoring two runs and giving the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.

Nolasco gave up a run on an RBI single by Martin Prado in the seventh, but finished off the inning with a 6-1 lead that the Dodger bullpen would not relinquish.

Of note:  Skip Schumaker, who has worn number 3 throughout the season, switched his number to 55 tonight.  Schumaker was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI on the game.  Hanley Ramirez, who had a 19 game hitting streak, went 0-for-4 and was hit by a pitch as he watched his hitting streak come to an end.

Nolasco’s line for his debut: 7 innings pitched, 1 earned run allowed, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts and no walks in a brilliant 97 pitch outing.  Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy on the other hand lasted 5 2/3 innings, surrendering six runs (five earned) on nine hits to go with three walks and only two strikeouts.  Kennedy struggled through 11o pitches.  Nolasco’s win improves his season record to 6-8 and his ERA lowers to 3.70.  Kennedy’s loss drops him to 3-5, his ERA rising to 5.31.  The Dodgers improve their record to 44-45 and move within 2 1/2 games of the division-leading Diamondbacks (47-43) with the win.

The Dodgers have now won 14 of their last 17 games, including 11 out of 13 against National League West opponents, and have gained 7 games in the National League West divisional race against the Diamondbacks during that time.  They have now won their last six series that they have played.

The Dodgers will take this three game mid-week season over the Diamondbacks and go for the sweep in the desert tomorrow.  The Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 2.83 ERA) will face off against the Diamondbacks’ Tyler Skaggs (2-1, 3.65 ERA) in a 6:40 p.m. local time start from Chase Field.

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