Andre Ethier hit an eight-inning tie-breaking home run on his 30th birthday as the Los Angeles Dodgers began their season-long celebration of Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in their home opener today, exactly 50 years after their first game there.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first as leadoff hitter Dee Gordon singled, stole second, moved to third on Mark Ellis' ground out and scored on Matt Kemp's ground out.
It was Kemp's ninth consecutive game with a run batted in, dating back to last season, setting a Los Angeles Dodger team record, breaking the mark he had shared with four other players, and tying the Dodger franchise record initially set by Augie Galan in 1944 and tied by Hall of Famer Roy Campanella in 1955.
The RBI has been an official statistic since 1920.
Pittsburgh tied the score in the seventh when Alex Presley led off with a single, advanced to second on Andrew McCutchen's single, moved to third on Casey McGehee's fly out and scored on Matt Hague's ground out.
Kenley Jensen (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief of starter Clayton Kershaw for the victory, striking out the first two batters he faced in front of a capacity crowd of 56,000.
Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save in four games.
Right-hander Jason Grilli (0-1), the third of three Pirate pitchers, took the loss.
Terry Seidler—whose late mother, Kay O'Malley, threw the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium's first game in 1962—threw today's ceremonial
first pitch. She was escorted to the mound by her brother, Peter O'Malley, the Dodgers' former owner.
The Beach Boys sang the national anthem. They are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, which will include their first concert tour in more than two decades and a new studio album, set to be released in June.
An F-18 fighter jet from Naval Air Station Lemoore flew over the stadium during pregame ceremonies. Color guards from all five military branches presented the colors and 150 Army personnel from the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion unfurled a giant flag on the field during the national anthem.
Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez of Los Angeles, a graduate of John Marshall High School, was honored as the Veteran of the Game. Rodriguez was deployed overseas eight times and lost his left leg in an explosion in Afghanistan last year.
Members of the 1962 Dodger team were introduced, including that year's National League Most Valuable Player, Maury Wills, who stole a then-record 104 bases, and Tommy Davis, who led the league in hitting and runs batted in, and who joined in the customary announcement, "It's time for Dodger baseball."
The 1962 Dodgers—who lost the first game at Dodger Stadium, 6-3, to the Cincinnati Reds—held a four-game lead with seven games to play that season, but lost six of their next seven games as the San Francisco Giants won five of seven to force a best-of-three playoff series to decide the National League pennant.
The Dodgers lost the playoff series, two games to one, including a 6-4 loss in the decisive third game when they allowed four runs in the ninth inning.
Drew Drysdale, whose late father, Don Drysdale, was the 1962 Cy Young Award winner and led the league with 25 victories and 232 strikeouts, sang "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch.
Vin Scully, a Dodger announcer since 1950 when the team was located in Brooklyn, missed the game because of what the team described as a bad cold.
It was the first time Scully, 84, had missed a home opener since 1977, when he was preparing for the CBS telecast of the Masters golf tournament.
Charley Steiner, normally the radio play-by-play announcer, filled in for Scully on the Prime Ticket telecast, with Steve Lyons serving as analyst, a role he fills on Prime Ticket road telecasts Scully does not announce.
Rick Monday, usually the radio analyst, was the radio play-by-play announcer.
Magic Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers star who fronts the group that reached an agreement last month to purchase the team from Frank McCourt for $2.15 billion, a record for a sports franchise, was not at the game. He is in New York City in connection with Wednesday's opening of the Broadway play about his rivalry with former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, "Magic/Bird."
Johnson, who has declined to substantively discuss his plans for the team, told a New York television interviewer, "We want to restore the Dodger pride. We take over the first of May and we'll see what we can do."
— By Steven Herber, City News Service