LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw launched his first career home run to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning, then finished off a four-hitter Monday that led the Los Angeles Dodgers over the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, 4-0, on Opening Day.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run in an opener since Bob Lemon for Cleveland in 1953, STATS Inc. said.
Kershaw struck out seven, walked none, and retired World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to end it.
The former Cy Young Award winner began the day as a career .146 batter with only one extra-base hit in 261 at-bats. But he sent the first pitch from George Kontos (0-1) over the center-field wall, triggering a standing ovation and prolonged roar from the sellout crowd of 53,000.
After high-fiving his teammates, Kershaw tipped his cap from the dugout.
Kershaw became the first pitcher in the majors to homer on Opening Day since Joe Magrane of St. Louis in 1988, and the first Dodgers pitcher to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965.
‘‘I never knew what that felt like,’’ Kershaw said.
Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, wearing his vintage No. 32 jersey, threw out the ceremonial first ball. In 1964, Koufax pitched the first Opening Day shutout at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw pitched his sixth career shutout, tossing 94 pitches in his third consecutive Opening Day start.
He has led the majors in ERA each of the last two seasons, and there is speculation he soon will be rewarded with a long-term contract worth about $200 million.
‘‘Opening Day was everything I could hope for,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully we got 161 more of those coming up.’’
Giants starter Matt Cain allowed four hits in six scoreless innings, struck out eight, and walked one. The righthander threw 93 pitches, including 32 in the first inning.
While Kershaw (1-0) was resting after his home run, the Dodgers broke it open.
Carl Crawford followed with a double and later scored on a wild pitch by Santiago Casilla for a 2-0 lead.
The Dodgers got their last two runs on RBI groundouts by Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis.
Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was on the mound before the game when manager Don Mattingly came out and signaled for a reliever. In came Koufax to throw the first ball to former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser.