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Dodgers finally back home in 1st place

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm •  Published: April 3, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After opening the season in Australia and San Diego, the Dodgers are finally coming home.

They host the rival San Francisco Giants on Friday, when Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his third start in five games. He replaces scheduled starter Clayton Kershaw, who's on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a strained muscle and is likely to be sidelined for a month or longer.

Los Angeles fans attending the sold out game will get their first up-close look at baseball's highest-paid team, with the Dodgers' $234 million payroll moving them ahead of the second-place New York Yankees.

"The guys are ready to go out there and show them that we can play," second baseman Dee Gordon said. "Big rivals, LA crowd, and I'm happy. It's going to be good."

The Dodgers are coming home leading the NL West with a 4-1 record. The Giants are in second place at 2-1 and will start Ryan Vogelsong.

The Dodgers have been all over the place since leaving spring training in Arizona.

They opened the season last month in Sydney, where they won two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Five days after returning home, they played the three-game Freeway Series exhibition against the Angels. Last Sunday, they opened the North American schedule with a loss at San Diego. After taking Monday off, they finished the series with two wins over the Padres before taking Thursday off.

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez said the players were thrown off a bit by all the travel.

"It's just getting your body adjusted again and getting your sleep pattern right. There's definitely a sense of fighting yourself a little bit," he said. "That's why it's so awesome to come back with two victories. You definitely need that adjustment period back."

Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp is expected to make his season debut after rehabbing from left ankle and shoulder operations. He's eager to return after being limited to 279 games over the last two seasons because of injuries.

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