Brilliant Billingsley Beats BoSox

Things seem to be falling into place for the Dodgers: Chad Billingsley is pitching like the Billingsley of 2007; Jeff Kent returned to double in the first run of the game and Los Angeles beat Boston 3-1 in the first game of the final three games of the exhibition series.

Billingsley, who was 12-6 in 2007 and will be the No. 3 starter in the rotation, allowed only two hits in five innings while striking out seven, allowing a single run in the fifth inning that tied the game and cost him the win.

He battling mechanical issues during the spring and came into the game 0-2 with a horrendous 8.31 earned run average.

He broke from the gate strongly, striking out two batters in each of the first three innings.

The young righthander said he was opening up too much on his delivery in previous outings but felt much better with this effort. "It was a real plus for me," he said. "I needed this."

Jeff Kent saw action for the first time since he "slightly" injured his right hamstring in a March 5 game.

Kent took part in batting practice and a simulated game prior to the game and manager Joe Torre was happy to report the second baseman would not start the season on the DL.

Kent played five innings and followed Andre Ethier's double in the third with a double of his own to drive in the game's first run off Boston Starter Bartolo Colon.

"I still need some time -- but I need to play, too. You try to get the best of both worlds," Kent said. "I feel like I have a little more strength in the leg, but I didn't want to use it tonight. I definitely was in a protection mode.

"I needed some at-bats, see some pitches on defense and then walk out of there without having it re-injured. And I was able to do that tonight."

Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury scored from third on a fielder's choice in the fifth inning, and after that, Sean Casey's sixth-inning single was all the Sox had against four Dodgers relievers the rest of the game.

With the game tied 1-1 in the last of the eighth, Mark Sweeney doubled home Ethier, who had walked, and James Loney added an insurance run with a single.

The struggling Joe Beimel threw two pithes and allowed a hit. Surprising Ramon Troncoso worked two scoreless innings and Scott Proctor picked up the win by blanking the Sox in the eighth. Jonathan Broxton worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record the save.

Rafael Furcal went 3-for-4, raising his average to .385 as the Dodgers improved to 10-17-4 for the spring and Boston slipped to 7-12.

The Dodgers host the Red Sox Saturday (tonight) in the first Major League game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1961. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers' arrival in Los Angeles, with Red Sox right-hander Tim Wakefield and Dodgers right-hander Esteban Loaiza drawing the start.
 Score by innings
Boston	        000 010 000-1
Los Angeles	000 100 02x-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  3  0  .385
 Repko pr-cf	0  0  0  0  .351
Martin c	3  0  0  0  .213
 Bennett c	1  0  0  0  .276	
Ethier rf-lf	3  2  1  0  .361
Kent 2b	        2  0  1  1  .250
 Hu 2b-ss	2  0  0  0  .302
Jones dh	2  0  0  0  .222
 Sweeney ph-dh	1  0  1  1  .393
 Chavez pr-dh	0  1  0  0  .267
Loney 1b	3  0  1  1  .253
Kemp cf-rf	2  0  0  0  .282
 Young pr-rf	0  0  0  0  .170
Pierre lf	3  0  0  0  .173
 Martinez 2b	1  0  0  0  .219
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .208
  Total	        31 3 7 3
  Boston	28 1 3 1

 Two-base hit- Ethier (1), Kent (1), 
Furcal (3). RBI- Kent (2), Sweeney
(6), Loney (6). SB- Loney (2), Kemp 
(6). CS- Furcal (4). DP- DeWitt and
Loney; DeWitt, Hu and Loney. LOB-
Boston 5, Los Angeles 9.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley	5.0  2  1-1  3  7  6.85
Beimel	        0.0  1  0-0  0  0  9.00
Troncoso	2.0  0  0-0  1  0  2.79
Proctor (W)	1.0  0  0-0  0  0  1.59
Broxton (sv)	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.00
 HBP- Kemp; by Troncoso. T- 2:37. 
Att- 43,404.
Roster Decisions
Torre announced a number of roster decisions, including:

Esteban Loaiza will get the 5th spot in the starting rotation. Loaiza was competing with Chan-Ho Park for the final spot but won the position thanks to a strong spring. The Dodgers' rotation: Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Loaiza.

Dodgers third baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who broke a bone in his right-hand on March 7 when he was hit by a pitch, is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

That makes 22-year-old Blake DeWitt, the surprise of the spring, the logical choice to start at third on opening day against San Francisco.

"Right now, Blake DeWitt looks like a good option. He really hasn't done anything wrong, in my mind," Torre said. "It's just the way he carries himself. He's done some things that have been impressive."

Backup third baseman Andy LaRoche, who tore a ligament in his right thumb the same day Garciaparra was injured and had to undergo surgery, expects to have his cast removed on Tuesday. Tony Abreu will start the season on the DL because of a sore groin, so

Commenting on his four outfielders -- Andre Ethier, Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp and Juan Pierre -- he said, "It's a good decision to have to make. Somebody's going to get angry, and I certainly don't want people on the bench who are satisfied to be there."

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