With the dust barely settled following the historic nine-player blockbuster with the Red Sox that sent Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the West Coast, the offense put on a rare hitting clinic at Dodger Stadium from the onset and finished with a season-high 16 hits.
Part of that came off the bat of hot-hitting Andre Ethier, who broke Ron Cey's L.A. Dodgers record for most consecutive hits with 10, and tied Edward Konetchy (1919) for the franchise record.
For the second straight game, Ethier finished 4-for-4 with a homer, and the blister on his right palm seems to have only helped the right fielder, who is now choking up more on the bat to shorten his swing and avoid pain.
"There were a lot of good vibes and good emotions going on with picking up these guys," said Ethier, who can tie and break the MLB record of 12 straight hits on Sunday. "It's a special day when you know you are getting better."
Possibly rejuvenated from the historic trade earlier in the day, or just amped up from ownership's commitment to winning at all costs, the players turned in a sort of performance that a team with such a high payroll expects.
Scratching and clawing for hits and runs through most of the season, the lineup looked vastly improved instantly.
"It was an exciting day for us," Mattingly said. "Not just for this team, also as an organization. That's a huge deal. You just don't pick up three quality guys like that."
While the offense looked different, Kershaw came out throwing like his old self despite allowing a run in both the first and second innings.
He tossed eight innings of two-run ball and struck out eight while allowing just three hits, including only one after the second inning -- which replays showed the runner should've been ruled out. Kershaw earned his 12th win of the year.
"When you get that lead early, you just want to go pound the strike zone," Kershaw said.
"To me, he's like a freight train," Mattingly said. "He's going to keep coming and keep making pitches. You see it all the time with him, he just keeps going after people."
On the offensive end, the revamped Dodgers lineup got to work quickly to erase a one-run deficit in the first. Mark Ellis and Luis Cruz hit back-to-back doubles, followed by a Matt Kemp single to bring up Gonzalez.
With the crowd on its feet, the new Dodgers first baseman and Southern California native made quite the first impression with his home run. The team compiled six hits and four runs in the inning, as all nine Dodgers came up to bat.
"The first pitch was a curveball and I was out in front a little," said Gonzalez, who finished 1-for-5. "He made a good pitch. The next pitch was a fastball in, and it was all adrenaline. When I saw the ball halfway in trajectory, it was a great feeling."
The team picked up another run in the second off starter Josh Johnson with a solo shot by Ellis, and another one in the third on an RBI single by A.J. Ellis that scored Ethier.
"JJ was off, with everything," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Velocity was down. If we're going to face a team of that caliber, you've got to bring your best stuff. If you're not, you're going to get killed."
Shane Victorino was a late scratch, but Mark Ellis filled in more than admirably in the leadoff spot by getting on base four times (three hits, one walk) and scoring twice.
Matt Kemp, hitting in front of Gonzalez, went 3-for-5 with singles in his first three at-bats.
"It was definitely exciting to see him hit that ball," Kemp said about the first-inning homer. "It gave us some motivation and pumped us up."
Nick Punto also made his Dodger debut as pinch-hitter in the eighth, and he drew a walk and scored.
Hanley Ramirez, playing against his former club, was the only starting position player not to record a hit on the electric night at Dodger Stadium. The team cut San Francisco's lead in the NL West down to two games with the win, as the future looks bright for the Dodgers in 2012 and beyond.
"You couldn't write a better story than that," said Gonzalez, as he wore a Mickey Mouse shirt at his on-field news conference after the game.