Chad 'K' Billingsley Hooks Fish

Twenty-three year old Chad Billingsley demonstrated that Clayton Kershaw is not the only wonderkind in the Dodgers arsenal by striking out a career-high 13 Marlins over seven innings in a 9-1 victory that moved the club to just a game behind Arizona as the Major Leagues pause for the All-Star break.

In only his second full season with the Dodgers, Billingsley boosted his record to 9-8 and dropped his earned run average to 3.25 with the five-hitter. The righthander, who didn't go to a three-ball count all afternoon long, recorded 10 strikeouts after five innings, including six in a row starting in the second.

At the same time Los Angeles batters broke out of their hitting funk, ramming across six runs in the first inning and adding another in the second to offset a Marlin run in the top of the first.

The win, coupled with he Arizona loss to the Phillies, moves the Dodgers to within one game of the first-place Diamondbacks with three games in Arizona immediately after the four day All-Star break.

The Marlins, after winning the first three games of the series, came into the game leading the league with 135 home run and had homered in 14 straight games, a club record.

Billingsley allowed a leadoff single and a double to right field by former Dodger Luis Gonzalez to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead before the fans had settled in their seats.

But that was the extent of Florida's offense. Billingsley allowed only one more hit until the sixth inning.

The young Dodgers delighted manager Joe Torre by working 10 walks during the game, three of them in the first inning, and four of the free passes wound up as L.A. runs.

The Nomar-as-leadoff experiment seemingly ended after one game and Matt Kemp was back in the #1 slot. He seemed happy to be there, reaching base four times on three hits and a walk, scoring twice, stealing two bases and knocking in two runs.

In the meantime, Garciaparra was dropped into the #4 hole and he also responded with a pair of hits and a pair of runs batted in.

Joe Beimel worked a quiet 1-2-3 eighth in relief and Cory Wade, after watching how Billingsley cunningly missed so many Marlin bats, pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out two himself, running the Florida whiff total to 15.

Los Angeles erased the one run Florida lead immediately in the bottom of the first. Kemp beat out a little trickler down the third base line, then Andre Ethier and Russ Martin walked.

Garciaparra singled to right field, tying the game, Andruw Jones walked to force in the lead run and James Loney lashed a double into the gap in right to drive in two more.

Andy LaRoche's grounder allowed Jones to score and Luis Maza executed a perfect squeeze bunt to drive in Loney with the sixth run. Maza fell over backward in the batter's box after dropping the bunt and Loney streaked across the plate while he was lying there.

Kemp and Garciaparra doubled in the second to make it 7-1 and in the fifth, Kemp completed the coup de grace with a two-run single, scoring LaRoche, who had walked, and Maza, who had singled.

 Score by innings
Florida	        100 000 000-1	
Los Angeles	610 020 00x-9

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp rf	        4  2  3  2  .284
Ethier lf	3  1  0  0  .283
Martin c	3  1  0  0  .294
Garciaparra ss	3  1  2  2  .250
 Berroa ss	1  0  0  0  .192
Jones cf	3  1  0  1  .164
Loney 1b	4  1  1  2  .291
LaRoche 3b	3  1  0  1  .182
Maza 2b       	3  1  2  1  .228
Billingsley p	2  0  0  0  .057
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .255
 Beimel p
 Wade p
  Totals	30 9 8 9
  Florida	32 1 5 1

 2b hits- Loney (25), Kemp (21), 
Garciaparra (3). S- Maza, Billingsley.
RBI- Garciaparra 2 (12), Jones (10),
Loney 2 (50), LaRoche (3), Kemp 2 (51).
SB- Kemp 2 (22). LOB- Los Angeles 9.
Florida 4.

 Los Angeles  	   in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (9-8) 7.0  5  1-1  0 13  3.25
Beimel        	  1.0  0  0-0  0  0  1.61
Wade        	  1.0  0  0-0  0  2  2.56
 TD- 2:38. Att- 32.213.
Saito Hurting
Closer Takashi Saito, who left the game Saturday night with "tightness" in his pitching elbow, is reported to have had trouble brushing his teeth the pain was so intense the yesterday morning.

The 38-year-old Saito, who had surgery on the same elbow in Japan in 1997, could be the 15th Dodger to go on the disabled list this season.

"It wasn't a stinging pain, but a strong tightness that got worse and worse," Saito said after coming out of the game. "It was a good idea to quit."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the extend of the injury will not be known until Saito undergoes an MRI today. "Hopefully, the news will be good," Torre said. "Hopefully, the fact that he let us know right away headed off any kind of serious damage."

If Saito is sidelined for any length of time, Jonathan Broxton will step into his spot as the closer.

The Dodgers at the Break According to the Dodgers Publicity Department, the Dodgers have played 95 games leading into the All-Star break, the most they have played in the "first half" since 1974 when they were 63-34. A look at 2008 and the last five seasons at the break, compared to the best and worst first halves in L.A. history:
season		record
2008		46-48
2007		49-40
2006		46-42
2005		40-48
2004		46-38
2003		49-44
1974		63-34
1979	        35-57
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jason Schmidt got lit up for five runs, four earned, on five hits over 2.1 innings, with three walks and two strikeouts, in his rehab start for Las Vegas against Tacoma. There were no report of how Schmidt's arm responded afterwards. ... Russell Martin is the only Dodgers representative at the All-Star game in New York. Shortstop Ivan De Jesus, Jr., played second base in the Futures Game and went 2 for 3 with a walk and a double at Yankee Stadium. Other current Dodgers who have played in the game include Brad Penny and Rafael Furcal (1999), Russell Martin and Andy Laroche (2005). ...The Dodgers are be the only Major League club to have never played a regular season game in Yankees Stadium, although they have played 32 World Series games. ...L.A. finished their 20-consecutive-day stretch with an 11-9 record. Today is the 13th anniversary of Ramon Martinez's no-hitter against the Marlins, the last one by a Dodgers pitcher at Chavez Ravine. … Former Dodgers outfielder Cody Ross singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 17 games with a single in the seventh. ...Broadcaster Rick Monday will visit the White House for a private baseball dinner Wednesday with President George Bush.

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