LOS ANGELES -- Brandon McCarthy wasn't flawless Wednesday night. But his Dodgers debut was a winning one and he'll take it.
"Closer," McCarthy said when comparing the way he started the season with the way he pitched in Spring Training. "I made a mechanical adjustment and executed a little better. It wasn't perfect, but better until the end."
The end came earlier than he or the Dodgers would have liked. McCarthy, given a four-run lead while teammate Adrian Gonzalez rewrote the home-run record books, did not retire any of the three batters he faced in the sixth inning and left the bullpen with four innings to finish off.
Three days into the season, that shouldn't have been a big issue. But fill-in closer Chris Hatcher had pitched in the first two games, as had Yimi Garcia.
"The bullpen was a really scary thing tonight," manager Don Mattingly said, explaining that he was in "a little bit of a box" as he tried not to use Hatcher or Garcia.
"I tried to get a few extra pitches out of [McCarthy], and that inning he was probably out of gas," he said.
McCarthy, the No. 3 starter until Hyun-Jin Ryu returns from shoulder problems, struck out nine in five-plus innings. He said he was "dragging … not as sharp" in the sixth.
While 97 pitches took their toll, McCarthy also spent time contributing offensively. With one out and the bases loaded, he worked an impressive seven-pitch RBI walk off Padres starter Andrew Cashner, even fouling off a pair of 99-mph fastballs and taking a 100-mph pitch for ball three, then a 99-mph fastball for ball four.
"Not an easy at-bat," said McCarthy. "He throws a million [mph]. From where I am [6-foot-7], I'm too tall to hit a fastball at the knees."
Then McCarthy had to run the bases on the next two plays, being erased at third base on the Yasiel Puig run-scoring fielder's-choice double play.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.