SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Jeff Weaver heard all spring about how San Francisco is favored to win the NL West over of his defending champion Dodgers.
Not if he can help it.
Weaver had his best stuff in his first start, pitching eight sharp innings and adding an RBI single in Los Angeles’ 6-0 victory over the Giants on Thursday night.
“Everybody says they’re supposed to win the division,” Weaver said. “We think we’re going to win the division. We came in here trying to make a statement that we’re just as tough as last year.”
Jeff Kent had three hits, drove in a run and scored twice against his former team, and Jason Phillips hit a run-scoring single. Weaver, who went 2-3 in six starts against San Francisco last season and led the Dodgers with three exhibition wins this spring, struck out two and walked one.
“You can’t pitch much better the first time out than Jeff Weaver did,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. “He picked right up where he left off last year being the type of starter he was a year ago. From my vantage point, it looked like he took it a notch higher.”
Kelly Wunsch completed the five-hit shutout and the Dodgers took the first series between the division rivals. Los Angeles knocked San Francisco out of playoff contention on the final weekend last fall.
Brett Tomko, pitching on his 32nd birthday, hung tough through five innings despite allowing baserunners in all but his 1-2-3 fifth. He ran into trouble in the sixth, getting tagged for three runs and four hits.
“I felt good,” Tomko said. “They just pieced together some hits in that one inning. A 2-0 game would have been a lot better than 4-0.”
Tomko was San Francisco’s most consistent pitcher in the second half last season and figured that staying with the same team for the first time in four years might help him get comfortable on the mound right away.
The right-hander went 5-1 with a 1.43 ERA over his final eight starts last season as the team’s most reliable starter down the stretch along with Friday night starter Noah Lowry, a lefty who went 6-0 after moving into the rotation full-time last Aug. 3.
Jose Valentin hit a sacrifice fly off Tomko in the fourth, but it was an unearned run after Giants center fielder Marquis Grissom misplayed Milton Bradley’s single for an error that allowed Kent to reach third.
For the first time in nine seasons, the Giants didn’t win their season-opening series.
“The pitching was pretty good for them all three games, but we just didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing,” said Giants right fielder Michael Tucker, who started in place of the injured Moises Alou. “When you have runners in scoring position and don’t get them in, it’s going to be tough winning some games.”
Kent batted .545 (6-for-11) and scored five runs in the three games, facing boos all series.
“There’s no messages to be sent,” Kent said. “It’s a long season. Yeah, I heard the boos and I take it as a compliment. There was no special motivation to beat the Giants.”
Giants manager Felipe Alou returned to the dugout after serving a one-game suspension Wednesday he received last September when former pitcher Dustin Hermanson plunked Kent. Second baseman Ray Durham also returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game with a mild groin strain.
Omar Vizquel provided another glimpse of how huge an upgrade the nine-time Gold Glove shortstop is for the Giants. In the fifth, Vizquel barehanded a high chopper by Cesar Izturis and fired the ball to first baseman J.T. Snow, drawing oohs and aahs from fans not used to seeing such defense in recent years.
J.D. Drew is yet to get a hit since the Dodgers signed the outfielder to a $55 million, five-year contract in December. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and is hitless in 13 at-bats to start the year.
Weaver threw 102 pitches, 70 strikes. … Valentin tied his career high with four walks, which he also did Aug. 9, 1999, against Colorado. He drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth. … It was three years ago Thursday that injured Dodgers closer Eric Gagne earned his first major league save. … Moises Alou will have an MRI on his strained right calf Friday. He left Wednesday’s 10-4 loss after the fourth inning with tightness in the calf—the same injury that landed him on the DL during the 2000, ’01 and ’02 seasons. … Jason Repko’s sixth-inning double for the Dodgers on Wednesday was changed to a single. He got his first career stolen base Thursday. … Golden State Warriors point guard Baron Davis attended the game.