Billingsley, Ramirez End Dodgers Slide

A wise old man once told us, "The sun doesn't shine on the same dog all the time; either the sun moves or the dog does." And thus it was with the Dodgers, using a sparkling effort by Chad Billingsley and four hits, including two homers and a double, by Manny Ramirez to end an eight-game losing streak by beating Arizona 6-2, who has lost six of their last eight.

It was only a single step toward getting back into the National League West race, but they did cut the Diamondback's lead to 3 1/2 games (four in the loss column) with just a tick over a month left in the season.

The Dodgers, after making nearly every pitcher they faced look like a Hall of Fame candidate, beat Dan Haren (14-7) who has won five of his last seven starts.

Ramirez had his second consecutive four-hit game for the first time in his career, missing Ron Cey's club record of nine straight hits but reaching base nine straight times before grounding out in his last trip to the plate.

He scored three runs and drove in two more while increasing his average to .419 with the Dodgers with 25 runs batted in.

"Tell Joe Torre thank you for making me cut my hair," Ramirez told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, running fingers through dreadlocks that are growing back nicely, dismissing concerns of some that Torre's grooming rules had robbed Ramirez of his run production the way Samson's power vanished with his hair.

He homered in the third for the first Dodgers run, doubled (career #500) and scored on Matt Kemp's 16th home run in the fifth, then lined a shot off the right-field foul pole in the seventh for his ninth home run in Dodger Blue.

He is 18-for-33 (.545) in his career against Arizona, with six doubles and seven runs batted in. In three games since being moved to No. 3 in the batting order, Ramirez is 9-for-13 (.692) with three home runs, three doubles, six runs and four RBIs.

"He's pretty remarkable," manager Joe Torre said. "But again, I've watched this for a number of years, he's one of the best right-hand hitters that has played the game in my lifetime. He doesn't give an at-bat away."

"I play the game, go have fun," said Ramirez, who could become a free agent after this season. "I'm on vacation. I don't got nothing to lose. I got one more month left, you know, go to the house, relax and see what my situation is going to be."

"All I'm doing now is extra," Ramirez said. "I've already did what I am going to do in my career."

Billingsley allowed a pair of runs and nine hits in seven innings, claiming his first win since August 15 and winning his career-high 13th game. He won 12 the last two seasons.

"I struggled a little bit in first inning and didn't get into a good rhythm," Billingsley said. "I kind of found it and started pounding the zone with all my pitches."

Billingsley enjoyed three double plays by his defense.

He turned the game over to Hong-Chih Kuo with two runners on base and Kuo struck out five in two scoreless innings including fanning the side in the ninth.

"He has a bellyful of guts," said Torre. "Like a lot of inexperienced players, he tries to do too much at times, but he straightens it out. He reels himself in."

Torre managed the Braves in 1982 when they lost 11 straight and 19 of 21. Despite that collapse, However, they won the division.

"It's not really important how bad we've been, it doesn't take much to turn this thing around. I learned in my St. Louis days as a player, as long as there are more games left than you're behind, you tell yourself you can win. Anything can happen. It can turn around very quickly."

When you play your main opponent, it is actually a two-game swing, putting a win in your column and a loss in theirs -- in his case a difference of trailing by 2 1/2 games or 4 1/2 games. So the third game of the series will be one of many crucial games over the final 30 days of the season.

A Dodgers win would leave Los Angeles very much still in the NL West race despite what would be a 2-8 road trip. And with three more games against the Diamondbacks in Dodger Stadium.

The game will feature a third duel between Brandon Webb and Derek Lowe and the infielders on both sides will have their hands full. Webb leads the Majors with a 3.42 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio and Lowe ranks second at 2.42.

The teams have split the first two meetings between the two, Los Angeles winning the first game 6-5 Dodgers on July 20 with a ninth-inning rally after Webb had left the game. The second was a 2-1 Diamondback win on July 31.

Lowe (10-11, 3.81 ERA) worked eight innings and gave up just two runs on six hits in a loss to Washington in his last start. He is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three outings against Arizona and has been shorted on run support all season long.

Webb (19-5, 2.96 ERA) will again be trying to become the National League's first 20-game winner since 2005. Webb allowed six runs in his last start at San Diego and failed to go five innings for only the second time all season.

Three Dodgers have had some success against Webb: Andre Ethier (.467), Loney (.400) and Russell Martin (.375). No other available Dodgers regular has hit better than .200 against Webb. On the other hand, Stephen Drew is hitting .600 (12-for-20) against Lowe with three doubles, a triple and a homer. ...The D-backs lead the season series with the Dodgers, 8-6, and are 5-3 at Chase Field.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	001 220 100-6
Arizona	        001 000 010-2

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Martin c	5  0  0  0  .283
Ethier lf	5  0  0  0  .278
Ramirez lf	5  3  4  2  .419
Loney 1b	5  0  2  0  .301
Kemp cf	        5  2  2  2  .292
Blake 3b	4  1  2  1  .272
DeWitt 2b	4  0  1  0  .256
Berroa ss	3  0  1  0  .224
Billingsley p	4  0  1  0  .091
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .250
  Totals	40 6 14 5
  Arizona	34 2 10 2

 Two-base hits- Ramirez (7), HR- Ramirez 2 (9),
Kemp (16). RBI- Ramirez 2 (25), Berroa (7),
Kemp 2 (69). SB- Kemp (30). LOB- Los Angeles
(8), Arizona (7). DP- Blake, DeWitt and Loney;
Loney, Berroa and Loney; DeWitt, Loney, Berroa
and Loney.

 Los Angeles	        in  h  r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (13-10)	7.0  9  2-2  2  6  3.13
Kuo        	        2.0  1  0-0  0  5  2.12
 HBP- Berroa. T- 2:51. Att- 49,045.
No News on Kent
Jeff Kent returned to Los Angeles for an MRI and an exam by club surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Kent left Friday night's game with the D-backs in the seventh inning, his knee locked up and in too much pain to continue.

Kent said he was worried about the knee, which had been clicking and popping, a sign of cartilage damage. He said he's been playing in pain for more than a month.

Blake DeWitt played exclusively at second base during his time in Las Vegas but didn't expect to be slotted into the position so quickly.

"I can't say I was expecting it," DeWitt said. "But after this year, when you've seen all that's happened, you've just got to be ready for anything."

Injury Updates
Torre also issued injury updates on Jason Schmidt and Rafael Furcal. Schmidt threw a scoreless inning for Las Vegas on Friday night, but Torre conceded for the first time that Schmidt is not likely to pitch for the Dodgers after he makes his final Minor League outing Monday.

"His velocity was in the 80s," Torre said. "I don't think we're looking at him being active for us the rest of the season."

Shortstop Furcal will resume rehabbing from back surgery in Arizona on Monday after attending to personal business in the Dominican Republic and is expected in Los Angeles by the end of next week.

Help on the Way
Rosters are allowed to expand from 25 to 40 Monday, and the Dodgers will call up a number of players that can be of help in the final days of the season.

Reliever Scott Proctor and outfielder Delwyn Young are set to return. Andruw Jones might be activated, however, he returned to Los Angeles Saturday from a Minor League rehab stint with Las Vegas to have his balky right knee examined. While the knee has been surgically repaired, the discomfort is in a different area.

The Dodgers continue to hope that Brad Penny and/or Takashi Saito can return to the club, although that won't happen Monday. Saito is scheduled for his second mound appearance Sunday.

Among the Minor Leaguers who will probably get a call are pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Eric Stults and James McDonald; catcher A.J. Ellis and shortstop Chin-lung Hu. Other candidates are outfielders Jason Repko and Xavier Paul.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers haven't lost nine in a row since dropping 10 straight from June 10-21, 1992. Before Saturday they had lost 10 straight on the road for the first time since a streak of 11 straight road losses in 1992. The last time they began a road trip with eight straight losses came on an 2-11 trip in 2005. ...James Loney went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He's hit .425 (17-for-40) with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs during the streak. It's his fourth hitting streak of at least nine games this season.

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