Padres win on Jackie Robinson night

LETDOWN IN LOS ANGELES::A ceremony in honor of Jackie Robinson at Dodger Stadium failed to inspire the home team, who lost for the third time in four games

AFP and AP, LOS ANGELES and BOSTON

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - Page 20

MAJIOR LEAGUES

Squaring off for the first time since their brawl, Los Angeles and San Diego were able to set aside any differences and commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.

San Diego’s Eric Stults pitched six solid innings and crushed a three-run homer in a 6-3 win a week after a wild melee between the two clubs left Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke with a broken left collarbone.

However, the focus at Dodger Stadium was on the baseball on Monday and the anniversary of Los Angeles native Robinson becoming the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.

Hollywood legend Harrison Ford threw out the first pitch and players on both teams wore Robinson’s No. 42.

The on-field ceremony included Robinson’s widow, Rachel, his daughter, Sharon, and son, David, as well as other Major League Baseball and Dodgers dignitaries.

Civil rights pioneer Robinson grew up in nearby Pasadena, California, where he attended Pasadena City College before transferring to Los Angeles-based UCLA.

The 70-year-old Ford was also on hand to celebrate the legacy of Robinson. Ford portrays Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey in the movie 42, which chronicles the 1947 breaking of baseball’s color barrier by Robinson. The film opened in US theaters on Friday.

“Jackie Robinson running onto Ebbets Field is not only the most important and powerful moment in baseball history, but it also changed the course of American history,” Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement earlier.

“Jackie’s courage and perseverance made it possible for African Americans and players of all races and ethnicities to compete on the same field,” he said.

Robinson was one of US baseball’s most dynamic players for a decade. The second baseman played in six World Series tournaments and led the Dodgers to the 1955 league championship.

He was chosen for six straight All-Star Games, beginning in 1949, and was named the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year award winner in 1947.

Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp said Robinson showed great diplomacy when dealing with racial abuse during the 1940s.

“He knew how to turn the other cheek. He knew how to walk away from situations,” Kemp said.

Law enforcement officials also stepped up security inside and around Dodger Stadium on Monday following the deadly explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

There was also a moment of silence for the Boston victims before the game started.

Monday’s Robinson ceremony failed to inspire the Dodgers, who lost for the third time in four games despite getting three hits, an RBI and a run scored from Carl Crawford.

Los Angeles starting pitcher Chad Billingsley was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings.

Stults slugged an unlikely homer and lasted six innings on the mound. He gave up nine hits and allowed just three runs for San Diego who snapped a five-game losing streak.

Elsewhere, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were making their way out of Fenway Park when two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon were heard at the stadium.

The Red Sox beat the Rays 3-2 with an RBI double by Mike Napoli in the ninth inning on Monday in Boston’s traditional Patriots Day morning game.

The game began at 11:05am and ended at about 2:10pm. A little less than an hour after that the explosions from Copley Square could be heard by those in and around Fenway.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, Brandon Phillips drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth inning as the Reds ended their five-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2.

Cincinnati’s five-game slide matched their longest slump from last season, when they won the National League Central.

In the American League, Mark Buehrle pitched in and out of trouble into the seventh inning to beat his former team, while J.P. Arencibia and Maicer Izturis hit solo homers as the Toronto Blue Jays topped the Chicago White Sox 4-3.

Buehrle (1-0) went 6-1/3 innings in his first career start against the White Sox, allowing two runs and nine hits. The left-hander walked two and struck out three.

In other AL games, the Minnesota Twins downed the Los Angeles Angels 8-2 and the Oakland Athletics trounced the Houston Astros 11-2.

In the National League, the St Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-6 and the Washington Nationals were 10-3 winners over the Florida Marlins.

Jon Jay and Matt Holliday each had two hits and two RBIs as St Louis jumped on Pittsburgh early.

Allen Craig doubled and drove in three runs for the Cardinals, who knocked around James McDonald (1-2) with a seven-run second inning. McDonald gave up eight runs, three earned, and walked two in 1-1/3 innings, the shortest start of his career.

Lance Lynn (2-0) labored through five innings to get the win.

Starling Marte had three hits and Neil Walker homered for the Pirates, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Meanwhile, Jordan Zimmermann pitched a six-hitter for his third victory of the season as Washington bounced back from a humbling weekend to beat Miami.

Ryan Zimmerman hit his first home run and had four RBIs to lead a 16-hit outburst. Zimmermann (3-0) struck out six, walked one and threw 102 pitches in his second career complete game.

The Nationals were outscored 18-5 while being swept in a three-game series at home against Atlanta. They took out any lingering frustration on the Marlins (2-11), who came into the game tied for the worst record in the majors.