Billlingsley's Complete Game Throttles Astros

Chad Billingsley ran his record to 7-0 -- 9-0 over the last two seasons -- while shutting down Houston on five hits and pitching his first major league complete game. Jeff Kent supplied all the runs he needed, smacking four hits in four trips to the plate, scoring one and knocking in two as the Dodgers coasted to a 10-2 win in the first game of the series.

Billingsley, who threw 113 pitches over his five-innings of work against the Mets in his last start, used only 109 and missed a shut out by the narrowest of margins.

With two out in the ninth and the Dodgers cruising along with a 10-0 lead, a ground ball just past the diving James Loney at first base was followed by a home run.

Before the ninth inning hit, Billingsley had faced 15 consecutive Astro batters and had allowed only a pair of walks.

Billingsley became the first Dodger to start the season 7-0 since Matt Herges started the 2000 season 8-0. Billingsley is 3-0 in seven starts since joining the rotation June 21 and was 4-0 in 23 relief appearances.

While it wasn't November 11, it seemed like Veterans' Night in Minute Maid park as Kent and Luis Gonzalez, both 39, combined for two runs, six hits and five runs batted in. Nomar Garciaparra, on his 34th birthday, added three hits, a run and a run batted in.

In addition to all his other fireworks, Kent reached base in his 33rd consecutive game.

Twenty-three year old James Loney joined the fun with a three-run homer in the ninth and stretched his streak of reaching base to 28 games dating back to June 22.

The Dodgers improved to 56-44 on the season and their road record of 27-20 is the best in the National League. They jumped a full 2 1/2 games in front of San Diego after Colorado scored five in the seventh to beat the Padres 7-2.

Lefty Mark Hendrickson (4-5, 4.54 ERA) opposes Astros righty Jason Jennings (1-6, 4.76) tonight in Houston.
 Score by innings
Dodgers	100 120 303-10
Houston	000 000 002- 2

 Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  2  2  0  .286 
Pierre cf	4  1  1  0  .286
Martin c	5  1  1  0  .301
Kent 2b	        4  1  4  2  .292
 Martinez 2b	1  1  1  0  .162
Gonzalez lf	4  1  2  3  .293
 Kemp rf	1  0  0  0  .371
Garciaparra 3b	5  1  3  1  .283
Loney 1b	4  1  1  3  .358
Ethier rf	4  0  2  0  .297
Billingsley p 	5  0  0  0  .154
    Dodgers	 42 10 17 9
    Astros	 30  2  5 2

 Error- Garciaparra (7). 2B- Kent 2 (24), 
Martin (22), Gonzalez (19), Martinez (3). 
HR- Loney (4). S- Pierre. RBI- Kent 2 (53), 
Gonzalez 3 (47), Garciaparra (48), Loney 3 
(22). LOB- Dodgers 8, Houston 5. DP- Kent, 
Furcal and Loney.

 Dodgers	        in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (7-0)	9.0  5  2-2  2  6  3.38
 HBP- Loney. T- 2:29 . Att- 38,245.			
Saito Gets Good Report-- The MRI exam on 37-year-old closer Takashi Saito's shoulder blade Monday morning showed no structural damage, and he was scheduled to fly in to rejoin the team in Houston.

Saito has missed five games because of a recurring pain around the shoulder blade and spine that first bothered him several years ago while he was pitching in Japan.

Manager Grady Little said he hopes Saito would be ready for action in the second game of the series. "He's been out three or four days, and it feels like the whole year. It's continually getting better," Little said.

One Eric Out, One Back In--Eric Stults, worked five innings against the Mets on Sunday before allowed a pair of runs in the sixth, was sent back to Las Vegas.

The move was not a demotion, rather the switching of one used arm for a fresh one out of the minors.

Right-hander Eric Hull (3-3, 3.18 ERA, nine saves) is is having a good year at Las Vegas, and is already on the Major League roster.

"By no means is this based on his performance," said Little. "He was great. This is out of necessity."

Hull and Stults have been roommates for three years. Shortly after receiving his good news, Hull's cell phone rang and it was Stults, passing along his bad news.

"It was kind of weird," said Hull. "When I saw his number on the phone, I knew it was going to be awkward. He was disappointed. He threw awesome. Then he asked if my wife [in Las Vegas to visit Hull] could pick him up from the airport."

Where There is Smoke?-- The rumor that Mark Teixeira is coming to the Dodgers continues to surface, with -- according to the whispers -- either James Loney or Andy LaRoche landing in Texas. A second rumor has the Dodgers as frontrunners to land Kansas City closer Octavio Dotel. The Royals are asking for a position player who is close to the majors and Las Vegas shortstop Chin-Lung Hu would fit that description.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Randy Wolf is scheduled for a Minor League rehab assignment at Inland Empire on Wednesday. After a 45-pitch bullpen session Sunday, Wolf said he was likely to require two rehab starts before being activated. ...Greg Miller, who has worked mostly in relief this season, started for Jacksonville Monday night and allowed only four hits and a single run over 3.2 innings while striking out eight. With the critical shortage of starters at the major league level, he is perhaps being stretched out to become a starter later this season.