Billingsley Struggles; Bullpen Saves His Win

Chad Billingsley struggled with his fastball, struggled with his curve, he even struggled keeping his uniform jersey buttoned but somehow fought his way through five innings to cling on to a 4-3 lead, then the bullpen provided magnificent support, saving his sixth win of the season. He is 6-3 with a 2.77 ERA in his last 11 starts beginning April 30.

With the pen stretched thin after two extra-inning games in succession, four different relievers worked a single inning each and, collectively, they allowed one hit, no runs and each contributed a strikeout.

After Billingsley worked a scoreless first inning, the Dodgers looked as if they might bat around in the last of the inning.

Juan Pierre singled to center, Matt Kemp bounced a ground rule double into the left field corner seats, James Loney scored both of them with a smash into the right field corner that went for a double and Russell Martin parked a fastball half-way up the left-field pavilion for the quickest four runs the team has produced this season.

Then, like someone turned off the faucet, the hits stopped and they never scored again. They worked pinch-hitter Andy LaRoche to third base after he singled in the fifth but a double play ended that threat. Pierre singled and stole second, then Loney singled him to third in the ninth but three strikeouts blunted that effort.

Billingsley's travails started in the second inning and continued until he threw his 108th pitch to end the fifth.

He gave up a single and a double in the second but squirmed out of it. He gave up a pair of leadoff hits in the second, a fielder's chose drove in one run, he walked a man and threw a wild pitch, then allowed an RBI single and another run-scoring grounder. He hit and runner but clutched his one run lead tight, ending the inning with a strikeout.

He got a pair of sparkling defensive plays in the fourth to keep Cleveland at bay. Blake DeWitt gobbled up a grounder and threw wide to first base but Loney managed a tag after catching the throw well down the line. Luis Maza went into short right field to make an over-the-shoulder catch on a little blooper. A sharp single to left field followed that would have scored a run has the two previous plays misfired but Billingsley got a fly to left to end that adventure.

Visibly tiring in the fifth, the young pitcher gave up a leadoff single, got a strikeout and a fly ball to left field before a double past first base and down into the right field corner threatened to tie the game.

Andre Ethier raced over, slid into the wall to block the ball, then got to his feet and fired to Maza and his relay to Martin at the plate arrived well in time for a inning-ending putout.

That was about all the excitement manager Joe Torre could take and he carefully parceled out his four available relievers to close out the game.

Joe Beimel made his ninth scoreless appearance in succession, although he allowed a double, only the second extra base hit he has allowed this season.

Hong Chic Kuo, after two scoreless innings the day before, was hitting 96 on the gun as he shut down the Indians. Jonathan Broxton didn't allowe a hit in his inning's work, his eighth scoreless appearance in a row and Takashi Saito had no trouble at all in a 1-2-3 ninth that gave him his 11th save of the season.

The Dodgers finally picked up a game on Arizona and now trail by 3 1/2. They also gained on San Francisco who lost to Kansas City; San Diego, who lost to the Tigers and Colorado, who lost to the Mets.

After a day off, the Dodgers host the Chicago White Sox (41-33) who leads the American League Central Division and Arizona travels to Boston (47-31)for three games with the East Division leaders.

The pitching matchups for the White Sox series:
Tuesday LHP Mark Buehrle (4-6, 4.28) vs. RHP Derek Lowe (5-6, 3.90)
Wednesday RHP Gavin Floyd (8-3, 3.19) vs. LHP Eric Stults (1-0, 1.50)
Thursday LHP John Danks (4-4, 2.80) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 4.34)     

 Score by innings
Cleveland	003 000 000-3	
Los Angeles	400 000 00x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  1  3  0  .284
Kemp cf	        4  1  1  0  .290
Loney 1b	4  1  2  2  .310
Martin c	4  1  1  2  .315
DeWitt 3b	4  0  0  0  .268
Ethier rf	3  0  0  0  .277
Berroa ss	3  0  1  0  .214
Billingsley p	1  0  0  0  .074
 LaRoche ph	1  0  1  0  .267
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .286
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000	
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .105
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	34 4 9 4
  Cleveland	36 3 9 3

 2b hits- Kemp (17), Loney (18). HR- Martin
(7). RBI- Loney 2 (39), Martin 2 (35). SB-
Pierre (29). LOB- Los Angeles 4, Cleveland

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (6-7)	5.0  8  3-3  1  4  3.64
Kuo        	        1.0  0  0-0  0  0  1.76
Beimel        	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  1.13
Broxton        	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.69
Saito (sv 11)     	1.0  0  0-0  0  1  2.56
 WP- Billingsley. HBP- by Billingsley 2.
T- 2:43. Att- 39.993.
*M*A*S*H* 4077 Report
Nomar Garciaparra's Boston physical therapist prescribed taking 10 days off but the Dodgers infielder has decided he will resume baseball activities on Tuesday after recently hitting in the cage. Garciaparra is at the point now where he just wants to give it a try again.

Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda reports he felt fine after long-tossing and will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. The Dodgers will then make the determination if he will make his next scheduled start when he's eligible to return from the disabled list.

Chan Ho Park, who threw five innings and allowing one run against Cleveland, would be the replacement going either Friday or Saturday if Kuroda is not ready.

Starter Brad Penny played long-toss for the second straight day, shortstop Rafael Furcal took ground balls and is running about 60-65 percent and catcher Gary Bennett, who was rehabbing at Las Vegas, still has problems with his foot.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Dodger pitchers have struck out 38 Indians over the last two days (30.0 innings) and a combined 68 Indians and Reds over the last five games. In fact, the Dodgers have struck out more opposing hitters than any other club in 12 games beginning June 8, having never fallen out of the Major League lead in that time. ...The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will dedicate a new Hall of Fame plaque for Jackie Robinson on Wednesday in the Hall of Fame Gallery. Following the ceremony, Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, and Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, will be the featured guests in an installment of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Voices of the Game Series.