Manger Joe Torre said he had the heart of a lion. "He's an old-school guy. He wants to finish off games. He doesn't want you to take the ball away from him. Today, I can say he was as good as I've seen him and when you look at the pitch count early he was very efficient," Torre said
The Dodgers scored all their runs in a bunch, a rather small bunch as it turned out but sufficient for Billingsley and his friend Jonathan Broxton out of the bullpen.
Trailing 1-0, L.A. loaded the bases in the sixth inning on singles by Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp, plus Russell Martin's walk.
Jeff Kent, whose average hovers around the .250 mark but is hitting in tough luck at this time, lined a shot to the shortstop before Garciaparra whacked a single to left that drove in a pair of runs.
James Loney picked up the third run on a ground ball to second base, following Torre's system perfectly.
The Nationals rookie left-hander John Lannan (6-10) was found to be much better than his record indicates. He has had 14 quality starts in his 20 appearances this season and apparently sufferers from the same ailment that afflicts the Dodgers.
The technical name is "fewrun-itis".
Billingsley allowed the first run of the game in the third inning when old friend Paul Lo Duca, playing first base this night, singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Billingsley's fought his way out of a bases-loaded, two-out mess in the fifth inning by striking out Cristian Guzman. Billingsley's own error contributed to the threat.
After the Dodgers finally broke through, Billingsley walked the leadoff man in the eighth and Guzman got his revenge with a bloop single to center cut the lead to 3-2.
After another single, Torre called on Jonathan Broxton who come out of the bullpen firing 99-mph fastballs that quickly restored order.
Former Dodgers minor league pitcher Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for Washington.
Broxton, who inherited the closer's role when Takashi Saito went on the disabled list July 13, recorded his third save with a scoreless ninth.
Broxton hit 100 mph on the radar gun while pitching to Lo Duca in the ninth, retiring him on a fly ball to right and Felipe Lopez bounced to shortstop to end it.
Billingsley allowed two runs on five hits with three walks. One of only 11 National League pitchers with 100 or more strikeouts, his total of four were well below his average but boosted his total to 137, second in the league to the Giants' Tim Lincecum who has 143.
Lifetime, the young right hander has allowed 336 hits and has fanned 337 over 366.2 innings.
Jeff Kent said after the game, "He hides the ball really well for a guy who throws 94-95. And when you're a pitcher who throws that hard and can hide the ball, you're going to be dominant. When our pitcher keeps us in the ballgame like that, it gives us the confidence that we can still work on their guy."
The Dodgers out-hit the last place Nationals 6-5, with Kent getting a pair and Andruw Jones adding a double.
Pitching matchups for the second game of the series involve a Dodger pitcher who may be going (Derek Lowe) against a former Dodger pitcher who has gone (Odalis Perez).
Lowe (7-8, 3.97 ERA), who is a free agent and has indicated he will move on after the season, had sub-par results in his last start after missing 10 days because of the all-star break and skipping his regular slot in the rotation so he would miss working in Coors Field, where he has been less than effective.?
LHP Odalis Perez (3-7, 3.99 ERA) won his third game on his last start when the Nats scored 12 runs for him in the first four innings. He allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. He will be facing his former team for the first time since he was traded to the Royals in the middle of the 2006 season. He is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers, all with the Braves.
Score by innings Washington 001 000 010-2 Los Angeles 000 003 00x-3 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre lf 4 1 1 0 .277 Kemp rf 3 1 1 0 .290 Martin c 3 1 0 0 .295 Kent 2b 4 0 2 0 .257 Ozuna 2b 0 0 0 0 .500 Garciaparra ss 3 0 1 2 .277 Berroa ss 0 0 0 0 .205 Loney 1b 2 0 0 1 .301 Jones cf 3 0 1 0 .168 LaRoche 3b 3 0 0 0 .203 Billingsley p 3 0 0 0 .075 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 28 3 6 3 Washington 30 5 5 2 Error- Billingsley (1). 2b hit- Jones (8). RBI- Garciaparra 2 (17), Loney (57). LOB- Los Angeles 4, Washington 6. DP- LaRoche, Kent and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Billingsley (10-9) 7.2 5 2-2 3 4 3.26 Broxton (sv 3) 1.1 0 0-0 0 1 3.35 HBP- Martin. T- 2:16. Att- 47,313.Pierre Returns Juan Pierre came off the disabled list nearly a month earlier than predicted after missing 20 games. The Dodgers were 11-9 during his absence. Outfielder Delwyn Young, suffering from a strained right oblique, was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to last Thursday, to make room for him.
Pierre was injured June 29 when he slid into second during a stolen base attempt in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 1-0 home loss to the Angels. He rehabbed by played left field the last two days with Las Vegas, going 3-for-6 with a double and two walks against Omaha, and declared himself fit for action.
The 30-year-old Pierre was hitting .277 with 35 stolen bases in 73 games when he was injured. He is baseball's active stolen base leader with 424.
Young injured his oblique during a pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-3 loss at Colorado. He ranks third in the majors with 12 pinch-hits, and is batting .248 with one homer and six RBI in 69 games.
Ethier the Odd-Man Out
The Dodgers answered the question of who would sit when Pierre came back by keeping Andruw Jones and sitting Andre Ethier.
Jones, who doubled in the game, is hitting .168 but as Torre explained it, "We're at a point in the season where we can't take a month to make up our minds for anything."
?Torre recognizes the dramatic improvement on the part of Ethier over the course of the season. But apparently club officials seems to feel that Andruw Jones was signed to give the Dodgers the power they were missing last year, and without him in the lineup, they're still missing it.
Of course, the fact that they have $36 million invested in him carries a lot of weight, as does he.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Jeff Kent, who had 13 career grand slams, is 0-for-7 in bases-loaded situations this season. ...Matt Kemp has hit in 12 straight games, the second-longest current streak in the Majors behind Washington's Ryan Zimmerman's 13-game run. Kemp, who batted leadoff in 18 of the games that Pierre missed, hit .316 in that role with six doubles, three homers, 11 RBIs, 10 walks and a .393 on-base percentage. ...The Dodgers have won four straight and nine of 10 against the Nationals. ...The Dodgers play 21 of 27 games at home beginning with last night's contest. ...Jonathan Broxton's 1.1-inning scoreless save lowered his ERA to 1.40 over 19.1 innings of his past 19 outings. It was his third save of the season, all since the All-Star break. ... U.S. Olympic men's beach volleyball team members Phil Dalhausser, Todd Rogers, and Sean Rosenthal threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game. They were joined on the field by Misty May-Treanor and Nicole Branagh, members of the U.S. women's beach volleyball team.