Billingsley Blanks Giants 4-0; Wins 11th Game

Chad Billingsley stopped the Giants 4-0, his second career complete game and first career shutout, and for the fourth time in the past five games the Dodgers haven't allowed a run. It is the 10th shutout this season, tops in the N.L. Andre Ethier threw out a runner at the plate to preserve the shutout and end the game. L.A., now 54-53, have won five of six and are 8-4 since the All-Star break.

It may seem curious that the Dodgers are looking for another starting pitcher with the staff's remarkable performance, but that seems to be the case and a familiar name has again cropped up -- Greg Maddux.

The win sets up a four-game set with Arizona starting tonight as Derek Lowe, who had a one-hitter through eight innings in his last outing, will face Brandon Webb, looking for his 15th win of the season. They still trail the DBacks by one game going into the matchup.

Matt Kemp had a pair of hits, runs and stolen bases (26) as he extended his hitting streak to 17 games, longest by a Dodgers player since Nomar's 22-gamer in 2006 but this night belonged to the Dodgers 24-year-old righthander who is now 11-9 on the season and 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA over his past nine starts.

Billingsley, pitching a day after his birthday, allowed only five hits, struck out eight and didn't walk a Giant all night. His 145 strikeouts in 138.2 innings puts him second in the National League behind Tim Lincecum's 156 strikeouts for San Francisco. He's on pace to be the first Dodgers pitcher to crack 200 strikeouts in a season since Chan Ho Park in 2001.

He had a three-hitter going into the ninth inning when Jose Castillo doubled off he right field wall and Randy Winn singled with two out. Andre Ethier's throw to the plate nailed the runner, the shutout and the game all in one motion.

"Yeah, it was good," Billingsley, who threw a season-high 118 pitches said when a writer mentioned his birthday. "First complete-game shutout is always a big one. To go out there and throw a complete-game shutout with no walks, I'm very happy about that."

Billingsley retired the first 12 Giants —-six on strikeouts-—before Bengie Molina drilled the first pitch of the fifth into center field for a single. Billingsley followed by getting Aaron Rowand to ground into a double play.

Rich Aurilia singled to start the sixth but Billingsley retired the next three batters, striking out two of them. Winn's one-out single in the seventh was the only other San Francisco hit.

Russell Martin summed it up after the game.

"I know opponents don't want to face him," he said of Billingsley. "Everything he throws moves. Even in a hitter's count, it doesn't matter, because he's not giving them an easy pitch to hit. He's a tough at-bat.

"He's getting swings and misses because he's got so much movement and he's not always throwing as hard as he can. He's adding and subtracting, purposely. That's what he did in the Minor Leagues. Now, he gets it."

"When I first came up, everything was 96, 95," Billingsley added. "Right now, I know I can have success at 90-93 and if I need it, I can still dial it up. I'm learning. It's just pitching."

Manager Joe Torre didn't sound like a manager who was looking for the proverbial "one more starter."

"This is remarkable, the number of shutouts," he said. "We have more consistent focus," he said. "We're more determined at this time. We just seem to be going at it a lot better. We're playing well right now; we obviously have an important series coming up. We're excited about that."

Los Angeles got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Matt Kemp led off with a walk and stole second. Martin singled to right for a 1-0 lead.

When something works, you do it again and that's just what Kemp and Martin did in the third inning. However, this time Casey Blake walked after Kemp and then scored himself when Jeff Kent doubled to the left field wall. James Loney knocked in his 60th run with a fly to left and on the play, Kent ended the inning by attempting to advance to third.

Kemp tried for the hat trick in the fifth. He singled and stole second, moving to third on Blake's single but this time Martin, Kent and Loney went down in order.

Neither team mounted a real threat after that until the Giants two-hit ninth inning fizzled out.

Of his hitting streak, Kemp said, "We won. That's all that matters. I'm not worried about the streak. Getting on base, scoring runs, that's all that matters. Trying to have good at-bats, that's the key."

As for Billingsley, Torre summed it up with, "He is pretty easy to hang your hat on right now."

Billingsley credited his success to conversations with injured veteran starter Jason Schmidt. "I've been in the majors a little over two years now," Billingsley said. "I have learned a lot from the guys on our staff, but I also have learned by talking to hitters, knowing what they do in certain counts and in certain situations.

"I'm trying to get a good feel not just for the pitching aspect but also into the hitter's thoughts. I can't explain it, but right now, I am just pitching with a lot of confidence."

One might hope that Clayton Kershaw is sitting beside Billingsley between starts.

The matchups with the Diamondbacks:
Tonight Derek Lowe (8-8, 3.74) vs. Brandon Webb (14-4, 3.14)
?Friday Clayton Kershaw (1-3, 4.53) vs. Randy Johnson (8-7, 4.58)
?Saturday Hiroki Kuroda (5-8, 4.40) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (1-1, 2.55)

 Score by  innings
San Francisco	000 000 000-0
Los Angeles	103 000 00x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp rf	        2  2  1  0  .295
Blake 3b	3  1  2  0  .295
Martin c	3  1  2  2  .297
Kent 2b	        4  0  2  1  .255
 Ozuna 2b	0  0  0  0  .279
Loney 1b	3  0  0  1  .296
Jones cf	3  0  0  0  .167
Ethier lf	4  0  0  0  .271
Berroa ss	3  0  1  0  .204
Billingsley p	3  0  0  0  .070
  Totals	28 4 8 4
  San Francisco	30 0 5 0

 2b hits- Kent (18). RBI- Martin 2 (51),
Kent (44), Loney (60). SF- Loney. SB-
Kemp 2 (26). CS- Martin (5). LOB- Los
Angeles 6, San Francisco 3. DP- Blake,
Kent and Loney.

 Los Angeles	        in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (11-9)	9.0  5  0-0  0  8  3.05
 T- 2:29. Att- 41,282.
Maddux Back in Blue?
Talk about replicating success, the Dodgers may attempt to add Greg Maddux to their staff as they did in 2006 when they the acquired the veteran from the Chicago Cubs. He responded by going 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 starts, helping the Dodgers to the National League wild card.?

With the 1 p.m. trading deadline looming, and Maddux insisting on playing only with a contending team on the West Coast, perhaps some sort of arrangement can be made.

The San Padres seemed interested in unloading the veteran and his $10 million contract, of which the Dodgers would be responsible for about $3.3 million. So a trade could depend on owner Frank McCourt's willingness to add to his payroll.

A deal probably wouldn't involve a Major League player or top 15 prospect because of the Padres have fallen out of the N.L. West race and are ready to re-adjust their roster.

?"His position really hasn't changed," Padres general manager Kevin Towers told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He only wants us to focus on West Coast, contending clubs. That kind of eliminates our options, other than one club."

?Maddux, 42, is 4-8 with a 4.29 ERA and just suffered through a career-worst 14 consecutive starts without winning. However, that can be blamed on the fact the Padres have scored a total of 15 runs in Maddux's eight losses this season.

?Maddux would add a veteran arm to a rotation that presently includes Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Jason Johnson, with two-time All-Star Brad Penny expected to come off the disabled list soon.

Kuroda in a slump and is working to extend at the finish of breaking balls. "He's had knockout stuff, but now he's not where he wants to be," Torre said of Kuroda, who has a 13.11 ERA in the second half. "He can't get the feel for his breaking ball. Knowing he's having trouble, he's not throwing with conviction to finish it off."

The idea that Kuroda could be moved to the bullpen wasn't completely dismissed by Torre. "If we have to fix something, we'll fix it," Torre said. "We certainly don't want to think that way at this point in time. We know the ability is there, we've seen it. But he's going to have to be comfortable."

?The Dodgers may not be able to acquire a shortstop, despite general manager Ned Colletti efforts, before the deadline.

Torre said the club had planned to promote Chin-lung Hu from Las Vegas, but Nomar Garciaparra wanted a few days to see if he his injured knee would respond.

"He said there's no difference, but he feels pretty good," said Torre. "He wasn't very good taking ground balls. I'm sure he can come off the bench for pinch-hitting; the only thing is he'll take another player to replace him on base or on defense. We'll look to the weekend at the earliest."

Dodger Blue Notes-- With a pair of stolen bases against the Giants, Kemp is the ninth player in Dodgers history to steal 25 bases before the age of 25. ...Chan Ho Park hasn't had to pitch on consecutive days since being moved from the rotation to a setup role. But the pitcher with an extensive history of arm problems is certain he will be forced to do so in the near future. "That's one of the things I don't like about it," Park said. "Injury-wise, I'm a little bit worried about it." ...Juan Pierre stole his 100th base as a Dodger Tuesday, becoming only the fourth player in history to steal 100 bases with three teams. Pierre, who also had 100 or more steals with Colorado and Florida, joined Brett Butler, Tommy Harper and Otis Nixon. ...Right-hander Scott Proctor is scheduled to pitch in a simulated game today. ...Roving baserunning and outfield coach Rodney McCray worked with the Dodgers. ...The World Baseball Classic will hold a press conference today at Dodger Stadium. The announcement will be attended by MLB COO Bob DuPuy, Players Association COO Gene Orza, international senior vice president Paul Archey, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Hall of Famers Tommy Lasorda, Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin, manager Joe Torre, first-base coach Mariano Duncan, former player Fernando Valenzuela and current Dodgers Hiroki Kuroda, Andruw Jones, Hong-Chih Kuo and Martin.

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