Billingsley Shelled in Championship Opener

JACKSONVILLE, Florida-- What a difference a week makes. After opening the first round of the Southern League playoffs with seven no-hit innings, Chad Billingsley was bombed by the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx for six runs, chasing him after two innings in a 7-4 victory in Game 1 of the Championship Series in front of 2,857 fans Tuesday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Billingsley, who had given up three runs over his previous 45.2 innings, combining with Jon Broxton on a no-hitter in his last start, allowed four runs in the first inning, including a long three-run home run.

Brandon Sing's three-run homer followed a walk, an RBI single and a hit-batsman. It was Sing's third home run and 10th RBI of the playoffs, after a regular season in which he tied for the Southern League lead in homers with 26.

West Tenn added two more runs in the second. After a two-out walk, Matthew Craig blasted a home run to right field. Billingsley then struck out Sing to end the frame, the last batter he face in the game.

That gave the Diamond Jaxx a 6-2 lead, and, eventually a one-to-nothing series lead.

The start was Billingsley's shortest since a two-inning, rain-shortened start on Opening Night, April 7. He hadn't allowed two home runs since May 28.

Diamond Jaxx starter Jae-kuk Ryu, making his first start since Sept. 5, also struggled in the early going. In the first, the South Korean righty allowed consecutive doubles to Tony Abreu, Jon Weber and Andy LaRoche, resulting in two runs. In the third. James Loney blasted a two-run homer, the Suns' first home run of the postseason, plating Weber and bringing Jacksonville to within 6-4.

But the Suns could manage only one hit after the third inning.

The Jacksonville bullpen was excellent in relief of Billingsley. Beltran Perez hurled 4.1 shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four. Beltran walked Sing with one out in the seventh and yielded to Carlos Alvarez, who induced Buck Coats to line into a double play.

Luis Gonzalez allowed the Diamond Jaxx's final run in the eighth. Jose Reyes was hit by a pitch, scoring three batters later on Patterson's single to center, the second baseman's third hit of the game.

Jon Weber had a single and a double for the Suns, who collected seven hits.

Right-hander Eric Hull, who won game two of the South Division Finals, will start for the Suns vs. left-hander Renyel Pinto, who shut out Carolina over seven innings in Game 1 of the North Division Finals. It will be the final game of the season at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. After a travel day Thursday, games 3, 4 and 5 will be played in Jackson, Tennessee.