You Didn't Think it Could Last, Did You?

It might have been excusable if one had thought, "We don't need CC Sabathia," after the Dodgers starting staff had recorded a glittering 1.73 earned run average in the previous 13 games. But reality set in and the realization that a Sandy Koufax clone wasn't going to be pitching every night after the Braves pounded out a 9-3 win.

With an Arizona win, the Dodgers stay in first place lasted about 24 hours. The Dodgers have given up the fewest runs of any team in the league, but they're two games under .500. They also rank among the bottom four in the league in runs scored.

As a result of that, the swinging door will apparently make one more revolution and Don Mattingly will replace Mike Easler as the hitting coach. Mattingly would become the Dodgers' ninth hitting coach in the past 10 seasons. He resigned from the Dodgers' coaching staff last January to tend to family matters, and the Dodgers promoted Easler from the minor league staff to replace him.

Chad Billingsley (8-8) looked like he might duplicate or better Hiroki Kuroda's one-hitter the night before by holding the Braves hitless through four innings, running his streak to 21 scoreless innings in succession, but after leadoff singles and a walk in the fifth things went downhill fast.

A three-run double smashed the dream and the Braves rolled to an easy win behind Jair Jurrjens in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.

Jurrjens held Los Angeles to five hits, struck out six and walked three. The only run he allowed came on a checked-swing RBI double by James Loney with two outs in the sixth.

"The first four innings I was able to get ahead of hitters," Billingsley said. "After that, I was getting down 1-0, 2-0, and they made me throw a hitter's pitch. It's tough to pitch like that. I was battling myself out there the last couple of innings. It's a matter of being consistent, and today was a rough one."

Billingsley was charged with six runs --five earned-- and six hits in 5.1 innings. He walked four and struck out eight to move into fourth place in the National League with 115 strikeouts in 109.1 innings, 9.45 per nine innings.

Ramon Troncoso took over and gave up an RBI single and another run scored on a play at the plate when Russell Martin couldn't get a handle on the ball and was charged with an error, his eighth this season while catching.

Back-to-back home runs of rookie Cory Wade in the ninth boosted the Atlanta margin to 9-1.

The Dodgers scored for two runs in the ninth inning when pinch-hitter Delwyn Young walked and Loney singled. Andruw Jones had his first two-hit game in recent memory to load the bases but Nomar Garciaparra bounced into a fielder's choice as one run scored and on a wild relay to first, Loney scored.

Pinch-hitter Angel Berroa and Matt Kemp struck out to end the game. Kemp was 0-for-5 and struck out four times and has 96 srikeoouts, fourth in the league. Ryan Howard leads the league at 124.

Although Jones had two singles he also had a strikeout and has struck out six times in 16 at-bats since returning from the disabled list and 51 times in 149 at-bats this season, a ratio worse than Kemp's.

"We're asking the kid [Kemp] to do some stuff that may be unfair," said manager Joe Torre. "We've given him a lot of responsibility up top, but he doesn't back off. He's going to be aggressive, and when you have a game like this where the pitcher doesn't make many mistakes, those things are going to happen."

Talking about the blowout, Torre said "We haven't had one of those for a while. Not that you say it's OK, but our pitching staff has done a heck of a job keeping us close and keeping us in games."

The Diamondbacks moved to .500 (46-46) and the Dodgers fell to 44-46 and a game behind second place.

Pitching matchups for tonight's game include RHP Derek Lowe (6-8, 4.02 ERA), who has been "supported" with 2.1 runs per game in his eight losses. His offense finally saved him in a 10-7 win over the Giants his last time out despite allowing eight hits in five innings.

RHP Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.19 ERA) gets the ball for Atlanta. In his last start, he scattered four hits over seven strong innings and picked up his ninth win of the season against the Astros. Hudson is 5-1 with a 4.07 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers.

 Score by innings
Atlanta	        000 033 012-9
Los Angeles	000 001 002-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp rf	        5  0  0  0  .278
Ethier lf 	2  1  1  0  .286
Martin c	4  0  1  0  .300
Kent 2b	        3  0  0  0  .260
 Young ph	0  1  0  0  .260
Loney 1b	4  1  2  1  .302
Jones cf	4  0  2  0  .168
Garciaparra ss	4  0  0  1  .267
DeWitt 3b	2  0  1  0  .267	
Billingsley p	2  0  0  0  .061
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 LaRoche ph	1  0  0  0  .184
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Berroa ph	1  0  0  0  .194
  Totals	32 3  7 2
  Atlanta	38 9 12 8

 Error- Martin (9). 2b hits- Loney (23).
RBI- Loney (48), Garciaparra (10). LOB-
Los Angeles 7, Atlanta 7.

 Los Angeles	  in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (8-8) 5.1  6  6-5  4  8  3.36 
Troncoso	  1.2  1  0-0  0  1  4.26
Beimel	          0.2  3  1-1  0  0  1.69
Wade	          1.1  2  2-2  0  2  2.78
 T- 3:03. Att- 39,702.
Price for CC Too High
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt again denied that financial concerns made him veto a potential deal with the Cleveland Indians that would've resulted in his team landing star pitcher CC Sabathia, who wound up in Milwaukee. The talks apparently started out with the Dodgers offering two players, one of them third baseman Andy LaRoche, for Sabathia, and went on to included several other players on both sides until it became unacceptable to the Dodgers. Asked if he would be comfortable adding $10 million to the payroll this season, McCourt replied, "I am comfortable with doing whatever makes sense for this organization to meet its objectives." Perhaps giving the Dodgers a glimmer of hope is the fact that Sabathia will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Tuesday's 9-3 loss was the Dodgers' first in their last 11 that was not decided by three runs or less. It was also the first of Los Angeles' last seven at Dodger Stadium that was not a shutout. A shutout would have set a Major League record for most consecutive home games in which one team was shut out. ...Brad Penny isn't expected to be sent on a minor league rehab assignment until after the All-Star break, Torre said. Penny received a cortisone injection in his stiff right shoulder, which has prevented him from pitching since May 14. ...In his third Minor League rehab start, pitcher Jason Schmidt allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits in four innings for Las Vegas. He threw 59 pitches, 36 strikes, and struck out two and walked one. ...Las Vegas placed pitcher Matt Riley (left shoulder tendinitis) and catcher Kelley Gulledge (left thumb sprain) on the DL. Also, Inland Empire pitcher Francisco Felix was promoted to Triple-A and outfielder Xavier Paul was activated from Vegas' DL. ...Backup catcher Danny Ardoin turned 34 on Tuesday.

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