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Nolasco excels on hill, at dish in LA debut

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers traded for Ricky Nolasco, and Tuesday night he turned into Zack Greinke.

A night after Greinke pitched seven scoreless innings and had three hits, Nolasco debuted with seven solid innings on the mound and two hits at the plate to beat Dodgers arch-rival Ian Kennedy and the first-place D-backs, 6-1, cutting Los Angeles' deficit in the National League West to 2 1/2 games.

Kennedy, who received a 10-game suspension for throwing beanballs the last time he pitched against the Dodgers June 11, hit a lot more Dodgers bats than Dodgers batters this time. He was charged with six runs (five earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings and is 3-5.

Kennedy did hit one batter, although it was a 1-0 changeup that accidentally plunked cleanup hitter Hanley Ramirez on the left arm with two out in the first inning.

"We knew Kennedy wasn't trying to hit Hanley, it was a changeup just trying to get in," said manager Don Mattingly.

Nobody else was hit by a pitch until two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Ronald Belisario hit Miguel Montero in the leg with an 0-2 fastball. Plate umpire Marvin Hudson thought it was intentional, because he issued warnings to both benches, well aware that Belisario had been ejected in the June 11 brawl between the two clubs and suspended one game, while Montero was also fined for his part.

Belisario found a way to claim innocence this time, while also keeping the fires burning for next time.

"It's not over -- but that wasn't on purpose," he said. "I don't like the way they keep talking, but it wasn't on purpose.

Montero wasn't convinced enough of the intent to get riled up.

"He got two strikes and he just probably tried to overthrow it coming in and he just pulled it and he got me," Montero said. "We're playing the game. I'm not crying about getting hit. It's just part of the game. He was just probably trying to make the perfect pitch and he tried too hard and he just hit me."

Meanwhile, the Nolasco trade for three young pitchers looks pretty good one start into his Dodgers career. He was charged with one run on four hits, five strikeouts and no walks. He also had a double, single, sacrifice bunt, an RBI and a run scored.

"I was pretty pumped up," said the Southern California native. "I haven't been that locked in in a long time, and it worked out great. It was definitely exciting, with a lot of energy and adrenaline going. The guys have been playing great the last two or three weeks, and I just try to come in and go about my business and help the team as much as possible."

Which, Nolasco said, is easier pitching for a team in contention than a team like Miami. He said it's also inspiring to follow a performance like Greinke's.

"I've always believed that pitching is contagious, just like hitting," he said. "You see Zack throw seven shutout innings, you want to continue the trend."

Nolasco wasn't the Dodgers' only run producer. Adrian Gonzalez, who has already conceded the All-Star Final Vote election to teammate Yasiel Puig, drove in three runs. Skip Schumaker had two hits and an RBI. Even Carl Crawford finally got a hit.

The Dodgers got their first run from an unexpected source -- Nolasco. A.J. Ellis and Skip Schumaker singled to open the second inning, Jerry Hairston Jr. grounded into a double play, but Nolasco lined a 1-2 fastball for a two-out single to right, scoring Ellis from third base. It was Nolasco's first RBI of the year.

Sloppy Arizona defense allowed the Dodgers to manufacture a run in the fourth. Ethier led off with a single. On a 3-2 pitch with Ethier stealing second, A.J. Ellis struck out, but catcher Montero's throw sailed into center field, allowing Ethier to take third. With the infield in, second baseman Aaron Hill backhanded Schumaker's one-hopper, but dropped the ball and had to record the out at first, as Ethier scored.

Nolasco led off the fifth with a double to right-center. Crawford, 0-for-18 since returning from the disabled list, bunted for a single while moving Nolasco to third. Puig, who was hit on the nose by a Kennedy fastball in June, walked to load the bases and demonstratively flipped his bat, as he's been doing a lot lately.

"He plays with a lot of arrogance," Kennedy said of Puig.

That loaded the bases for Gonzalez, whose fly to the warning track in center was dropped by Adam Eaton as he stumbled to a knee in his 2013 debut. With the ball rolling on the track, Nolasco and Crawford scored.

Puig raced to third, slowed down rounding the bag, then took off for the plate while cutoff man Didi Gregorius was holding the ball in shallow center. Puig was thrown out easily. Not only did the baserunning mistake cost the Dodgers the first out of the inning, but Puig shoved catcher Montero as he was tagged and Montero gave Puig a finger wag, adding a little more fuel to the fire.

Montero said he didn't have a problem with Puig coming into the plate hard, but warned that Puig's aggressively reckless style can lead to unintended consequences.

"I think it's just the way the kid plays," he said. "The kid plays like that and probably other guys are taking it the wrong way maybe. Maybe not. It just seems like he might get in trouble. Not with the D-backs, probably with someone else. It's just the way he plays. He plays the game hard. That's it."

Mattingly criticized Puig for another baserunning mistake, but also noted Puig's two walks.

"He wasn't chasing balls he was chasing the last few days," he said.

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