The Los Angeles Dodgers hope Chad Billingsley lasts a little longer than Clayton Kershaw did in the opener when they continue a four-game season-opening series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Kershaw, the National League's reigning Cy Young Award winner, pitched just three innings because of the flu on Thursday, but Los Angeles still came away with a 5-3 win.
Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer and knocked in three for the Dodgers while five pitchers combined with Kershaw on a five-hitter. Josh Lindblom (1-0) threw two perfect innings for the win and Javy Guerra tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Edinson Volquez (0-1) took the loss in his regular season debut for the Padres after giving up three runs -- two earned -- on three hits in five innings, and Cameron Maybin hit a two-run homer.
Kershaw gutted out his start, striking out three batters and giving up just two hits and a walk in three scoreless frames.
"Basically he was just trying to get quick innings, get through them and get off the field," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "It was pretty impressive."
Following a year of financial and front office turmoil, the Dodgers recently announced they were being sold for $2.15 billion to a group including former Lakers star Magic Johnson, who was on hand Thursday.
Kemp, who finished second in NL MVP voting a year ago, said Johnson congratulated him after his homer in the eighth inning.
"He stuck his head in the dugout and said, 'Nice job, kid,'" said Kemp. "And I was like, hey, that's Magic Johnson right there. It's good to have him around and good to see him. That was some good motivation right there."
Billingsley gets the call tonight. The right-hander finished with double-digit wins for the fifth straight season last year, going 11-11 with a 4.21 ERA. However, he struggled down the stretch and spent the offseason working on his mechanics with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
"I've talked about it with Chad, the consistency. The stuff is there," Mattingly said. "If he's happy with his mechanics and most of his pitches and he's healthy, that's a good sign."
Billingsley pitched to a 1.38 ERA in two starts last season against the Padres, but is 11-8 lifetime versus them with a 2.79 ERA in 25 games (21 starts).
San Diego, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Cory Luebke, who recently signed an extension that will keep him with the Padres through 2015.
Luebke posted a 6-10 mark along 3.29 earned run average in 46 games, 17 starts, behind a 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings mark in 2011. He struck out 154 batters in his first full major league season, the second-most ever recorded by a Padres rookie.
"He's got good stuff, and he's got an assortment of pitches now that he can feel confident in to keep him progressing," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Luebke is 1-2 in four games (three starts) against the Dodgers with a 3.09 ERA.
Los Angeles won 13 of its 18 games against the Padres a season ago, including six of the nine matchups in San Diego.