Billingsley Stops the Bleeding

Dodger fans, and probably many of the Dodger front office, saw the real Chad Billingsley Sunday as the young righthander smothered the San Diego Padres, limiting them to three hits while striking out nine. He won his fifth decision without a loss and broke San Diego's five-game winning streak against Los Angeles game #82, the first game of the second half of the season.

For Dodger minor league aficionados, it was vintage Billingsley as he retired the final 16 he faced and 18 of the final 19. He allowed a pair of singles to the opposite field and a comebacker that glanced off his heel and bounced away from second baseman Tony Abreu.

He finished his seven innings of work having thrown 88 pitches, 63 of them for strikes and didn't walk a batter while tying his career best with nine strikeouts in only his third start of the season after working out of the bullpen most of the year.

San Diego had won 20 of the previous 29 and 10 of the last 14 from the Dodgers but the win moved L.A. back to within a game of the Padres and with the Arizona loss in San Francisco, just a half-game behind the Diamondbacks.

Three straight two-out RBI singles in the third inning put L.A. on the board and solo home run by Matt Kemp in the fourth and Rafael Furcal in the seventh rounded out the nine-hit day.

Jonathan Broxton added a scoreless eighth and newly-arrived D.J. Houlton made his first major league appearance since 2005 with a scoreless ninth.

Billingsley was a factor in the third inning rally, bunting Kemp to second after he had singled. Furcal drove him in with a single to center, then stole second (#9). Juan Pierre drove him in with a single to center and also stole second (#30). Russell Martin made it three in a row by knocking in Pierre. The stolen bases gave the Dodgers 10 steals in 11 attempts during the series.

Kemp and Furcal each hit their second home runs, each carrying into the right field seats.

During the game it was announced that Martin would be the starting catcher in the July 10th All-Star game in San Francisco. He got a standing ovation from the 48,632 fans. The Dodgers have drawn over 175,000,000 since moving to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers open a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves tonight with two former 20-game winners on the mound. Derek Lowe (8-7, 3.03) opposes John Smoltz (9-4, 2.98).
 Score by innings
San Diego	000 000 000-0
Los Angeles	003 100 10x-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  2  2  2  .272
Pierre cf	3  1  1  1  .277
Martin c	3  0  1  1  .297
Gonzalez lf	3  0  0  0  .291
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Houlton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Garciaparra 3b	3  0  0  0  .273
 Ethier lf	1  0  0  0  .275
Loney 1b	3  0  0  0  .415
Kemp rf	        4  2  2  1  .400
Abreu 2b	4  0  2  0  .290
Billingsley p	1  0  1  0  .667
 Betemit ph	1  0  0  0  .190
   Totals	31 5 9 5
   San Diego	32 0 5 0

 HR- Furcal (2), Kemp (2). RBI- Furcal 2 (29),
Pierre (`19), Martin (53), Kemp (9). SB- Furcal
(9), Pierre (31). LOB- Los Angeles 8, San Diego 
(7). S- Billingsley.

 Los Angeles	        in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (5-0)	7.0  3  0-0  0  9  3.44
Broxton	                1.0  1  0-0  0  1  3.00
Houlton	                1.0  1  0-0  1  0  0.00
 T- 2:32. Att- 48,632,
Dodger Blue Notes-- D.J. Houlton, who spent the entire 2005 season on the Dodger roster as a Rule 5 draft choice, returned to the big leagues last night for the first time as the Dodgers optioned Hong-Chih Kuo to Triple-A Las Vegas. Houlton went 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 16 games (14 starts) for the 51s. ...Juan Pierre stole his 31st base in the contest, which is second in the Major Leagues, behind New York's Jose Reyes (40). Pierre has swiped eight bases in his last six games. As a team, the Dodgers stole 10 bases in the three-game series with San Diego: Pierre (5), Rafael Furcal (2), Russell Martin (2) and Luis Gonzalez (1). ...Russell Martin singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games. Martin is hitting .333 (16-for-48) during the 11 contests and finished 1-for-3. ...Matt Kemp has been on fire since returning from Las Vegas on June 8. Kemp went 2-for-4 with his second homer of the season and is now hitting .400 (26-for-65) on the year. Since returning in June, Kemp is batting .392 (20-for-51). ...Rafael Furcal said that his ankle was still hurting him before the game. The shortstop sprained the ankle in a collision with Jason Repko in Spring Training and has not been 100 percent since. Furcal stole 37 bases last season and so far this season has swiped just nine. ...Manager Grady Little announced that Mark Hendrickson will take Hong-Chih Kuo's spot in the rotation on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves. Hendrickson started the season as the team's fifth starter, but after eight starts, he was sent to the bullpen in favor of Kuo. Hendrickson is 2-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 19 games this season.