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Offensive fireworks highlight home opener

Offensive fireworks highlight home opener

LOS ANGELES -- It was hardware that Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier had dreamed about. Before the Dodgers' home opener Tuesday, a 9-5 victory over the D-backs, they were presented with 2009 Silver Slugger Awards. Kemp also took home a Gold Glove.

But in front of a sold-out crowd of 56,000, it was a nine-time Silver Slugger winner whose home run was the most poignant. Manny Ramirez hit the first of four Dodgers' long balls, followed by Casey Blake, Kemp and Ethier. Of the four, only Kemp had homered this season -- the team had hit just three home runs through it's first six games.

"I think we were just excited to be back home," Kemp said.

Ramirez's only hit in four at-bats was a solo shot to lead off the fourth inning. He drilled the ninth pitch he saw from the D-backs' Ian Kennedy -- a hanging breaking ball -- an estimated 435 feet to left-center for a 2-1 Dodgers lead and a curtain call. It was the 547th homer of his career. Kemp has 63 and Ethier 76.

James Loney, the only one of the Dodgers' Nos. 2 through 6 hitters that didn't homer Tuesday, followed with his second double of the game. He scored two pitches later on Blake's homer to center, which extended the lead to 4-1.

"I think maybe with age, I've learned really not to put too much emphasis on the start of the season," said Blake, a self-described slow starter who's batting .389. "In the past, I would've gone back to the hotel room and really dwelled on some of my at-bats and wondered what was going on."

Kemp, coming off a 26-homer year in 2009, hit an opposite-field solo homer in the fifth that made it 5-1, again off Kennedy. That topped off his already special day.

"I got some awards that I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid," Kemp said. " [Kennedy] threw me some offspeed pitches that I pulled off on and he threw me a fastball to the outside corner, and I stayed closed and took it to right field."

Kemp and Ethier both were 2-for-5. Ethier hadn't started since Wednesday in Pittsburgh, where he injured his ankle on the bases. Down 0-2 in the count, he pulled reliever Esmerling Vasquez's changeup out to right for a three-run homer and a 9-2 cushion.

"Just looking for a pitch to get out to the outfield, get a pop fly out there to get that run in from third," said Ethier, who hit 31 home runs a season ago. "We're happy to be home."

It was only the second time since Ramirez joined the team that he, Kemp and Ethier had gone deep in the same game. The last time was Aug. 17, 2008 against the Brewers, a 7-5 Dodgers win.

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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