Dodgers-Cardinals, a Rivalry Etched in Time

The Brooklyn Dodgers spent 68 years banging their heads off the Cardinals and the all-time series has S. Louis with a 14-game bulge, 925-939 -- since 1900. The four-game will see rookie Chad Billingsley vs. Jason Marquis Thursday, Derek Lowe vs. Chris Carpenter Friday, Mark Hendrickson vs. Jeff Suppan Saturday afternoon and Brad Penny vs. Anthony Reyes on Sunday afternoon.

The Cardinals are 6-1 in their last seven home games against the Dodgers, and have won 12 of the last 17 meetings overall, including mashing them in the first round of the 2004 National League playoffs. …First baseman Nomar Garciaparra begins the second half tied with Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez for the league lead with a .358 batting average, apparently not high enough to get his bat into and All-Star game that saw the N.L. collect only one run batted in. Garciaparra's resurgence has helped the Dodgers bat an NL-best .284 this season after finishing 15th with a .253 average last year. …Rookie Chad Billingsley (0-2, 5.27) will try for the sixth time to record his first career win when he takes the mound for Los Angeles tonight. Billingsley pitched 5.1 innings Friday and gave up five runs and six hits, including Barry Bonds' 720th homer, failing to get a decision in Los Angeles' 9-7 win over San Francisco.…In three road starts this season, the right-hander has walked 13 and allowed 17 hits in 17 innings, going 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA. …Los Angeles ended the first half with a 3-1 victory over the Giants, its fifth win in seven contests. The Dodgers trail NL West leader San Diego by two games.

Even Bud Doesn't Understand It-- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that even the commissioner of baseball isn't immune to the sport's television blackout rules. Bud Selig admitted that he has been restricted from watching some games this season – and that he intends to change the policy that leaves some cities without as many as six baseball games each night. "I don't understand (blackouts) myself," Selig said at a luncheon with the Baseball Writers Association of America. "I get blacked out from some games." While he did not outline a plan, Selig said he had spoken with Major League Baseball about addressing the blackout issue. "Right now," he said, "I don't know what to do about it. We'll figure it out."

Trade Me or Shoot Me-- Toby Hall, the former Devil Rays catcher that he sees no future with the Dodgers and does not want to be an "insurance policy" in case 23-year-old Russ Martin wilts. "I don't want to play like that, to sit there and wait," Hall said from his Tampa home. "That's not the type of player I am." Since Hall was traded June 27 with pitcher Mark Hendrickson, he has played three games and is 4-for-10 with three RBI. "The trade didn't make sense," Hall said. "How are they going to trade me to a team when they already have a catcher? I'm not going over there as an insurance policy. I have no future in L.A. Let's go to a team where I catch next year and into the future."