The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their Major League Baseball season with a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday despite flu-ridden pitcher Clayton Kershaw leaving the game after just three innings.

Kershaw, battling stomach flu, retired the first eight batters he faced before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the third inning. The left-hander, who had a 21-5 record last season and won the National League's Cy Young award for the top pitcher, struck out three and walked one while giving up two hits.

He also had the game's first hit, a third-inning single.

Josh Lindblom replaced Kershaw in the fourth and pitched two innings to take the win.

Matt Kemp homered and drove in three runs for the Dodgers as outgoing and incoming owners Frank McCourt and former National Basketball Association great Earvin 'Magic' Johnson sat side by side for the game in San Diego.

The Dodgers are being sold to a group that includes Johnson for $2 billion.

Padres starter Edinson Volquez took the loss, giving up three hits and three runs while striking out seven and walking four in five innings.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)