"I haven't heard anybody talk about last season," said Chad Billingsley. "This is a completely different team. This team finds ways to win, makes the big plays, gets the big hits, plays solid baseball. We come to the park expecting to win. This team has fun."
If they were worrying about playing in Colorado it wasn't apparent, working around a number of missed opportunities that kept the game close until the ninth inning when James Loney lined a bases-loaded double to drive in three and nail down the win.
Because Loney was 1-for-15 against Rockies starter Jeff Francis, Nomar Garciaparra starter. Nomar doubled, walked and scored twice before Loney took over in the seventh.
Loney finished the game 2-for-2, his double giving him 27 RBIs in 17 career games at Coors Field. He drove in six runs here on May 3 and five more on July 21. He drove in nine on Sept. 28, 2006 to tie Gil Hodges and Ron Cey's single-game record.
This year, Loney is hitting .393 with 14 RBIs at Coors Field and .351 with 19 RBIs against the Rockies on the season. Loney has a team-high 83 RBIs. For his career, Loney is hitting .344 with 27 RBIs at Coors Field and .345 with 40 RBIs against the Rockies.
Chad Billingsley (15-10) had a perfectly terrible first two innings, allowing six baserunners as he struggled to command his fastball and eventually finished his six innings with only three strikeouts.
The 24-year-old, who hit a new high in wins this night, allowed six hits and stranded eight, but never retired the hard-hitting Rockies in any inning.
Billingsley settled in after allowing a Roy Holliday home run that bounced off the top of the right field wall and into the stands in the first, and an RBI single in the second both with two out. After that, gave up only a harmless single over his final four innings, pitching around a base runner in each of them.
It was the first win in Coors Field for Billingsley, who came into the game 0-2 with a 5.76 ERA. He is 11-3 with a 2.61 earned-run average over his last 17 starts.
Matt Kemp, 1-for-11 and 4-for-25 coming into the game, tripled off the wall in the second inning to score Garciaparra from first to tie the game 1-1.
At least it was a triple for a moment. Then the official scorer changed it to a double and an error on Brad Hawpe in right field when he fumbled the long shot that bounced off the wall and past center fielder Willie Taveras.
Kemp scored later in the inning on Blake DeWitt's long fly.
Then Kemp doubled in the fourth to score Garciaparra, who had doubled to lead off the inning. This time the scorer changed his ruling and gave Holliday an error in left field, leaving Kemp with an RBI single and the Dodgers with a 3-2 lead.
Manny Ramirez hit a smash to Ian Stewart at third and he turned it into a quick double play in the first inning after Andre Ethier had singled with one out.
Ramirez also hit into a second double play in the fifth when the Dodgers squandered a perfect opportunity.
Russell Martin singled and Ethier lived on an error before Ramirez hit a long, towering fly ball to left field. Martin attempted to tag and go to third but was thrown out easily, leaving Ramirez with a 7-5 double play on his record.
Manny got even in the seventh with the Dodgers leading by a slim, 3-2 margin.
With Francis out of the game for a pinch-hitter, Jason Grilli took over on the mound with a 17-scoreless inning streak in his pocket.
Angel Berroa, who had broken an 0-for-11 stretch with a single in the first, singled again and pinch-hitter Delwyn Young walked.
Martin attempted to bunt the runners over but finally popped to second and Ethier fanned on a ball that bounced in the dirt.
Manny, as relaxed as if he were playing pepper with a friend, lashed a shot off the right field wall to score Berroa.
In the ninth, still leading 4-2, Chin-Lung Hu walked and Martin again failed to get a bunt down, this time popping up to the pitcher.
Ethier singled to center and Ramirez lined another single to right that was hit so hard Hu had to hold at third base.
Then Loney ripped a shot to the wall in right-center, scoring all three baserunners and putting the game in the bag.
After Billingsley left for a pinch hitter having thrown 96 pitches, manager Joe Torre, working with a bullpen that must keep other National League managers awake at night, delicately mixed and matched his arms to the Rockies bats over the final three innings, allowing one hit.
The Dodgers' pen lowered its earned-run average to 1.27 over its last 12 games, during which the team has won 11 times.
With both reliable Hong-Chih Kuo still nursing a tired arm and and Takashi Saito, who is expected to come off the disabled list today, not available he deployed veteran Chad Ho Park to get the first man in he seventh.
After he allowed a single, Torre called on rookie left hander Scott Elbert to eliminate Brad Hawpe with a strikeout, then switched to Cory Wade to get the final out of the inning.
Wade, one of the success stories of 2008, pitched around a walk in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton was warmed and ready to protect a 4-2 lead in the last of the ninth but Loney's big hit prompted Torre to switch to Scott Proctor and he worked the Dodgers a 1-2-3 inning.
Since returning from the disabled list (where he rested a tired arm) Wade has allowed one run in 9.1 innings, has a 2.32 ERA in 62 innings over 48 games plus has allowed only five of the 22 runners he's inherited to score.
Arizona took a 3-0 lead into the ninth against Cincinnati and had to beat off a late rally to win 3-2, giving Brandon Webb his 20th win of the season and keeping the Dodgers' margin at 3 1/2 games.
Rookie LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 4.60 ERA) will be looking for his first win in Coors Field tonight. Kershaw was tagged for five runs on 10 hits in three innings by the Rockies in a July 22 start.
Colorado will start LHP Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 5.30 ERA) who had three dominating outings, giving up just two runs in 19 innings, before struggling against the Astros. De La Rosa surrendered just one run in six innings the last time he faced the Dodgers on Aug. 21.
Score by innings Los Angeles 020 100 103-7 Colorado 110 000 000-2 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Martin c 4 0 1 0 .277 Ethier rf 5 1 2 0 .302 Ramirez lf 5 1 2 1 .396 Proctor p 0 0 0 0 .000 Blake 3b 4 0 0 0 .256 Wade P 0 0 0 0 .000 Pierre ph-lf 1 0 0 0 .272 Garciaparra 1b 2 2 1 0 .238 Loney 1b 2 0 2 3 .300 Kemp cf 5 1 2 2 .286 DeWitt 2b-3b 2 0 0 1 .266 Berroa ss 4 1 2 0 .231 Billingsley p 2 0 0 0 .083 Young ph 0 0 0 0 .246 Park p 0 0 0 0 .111 Elbert p 0 0 0 0 .000 Hu 2b 0 1 0 0 .164 Totals 36 7 12 7 Colorado 34 2 7 2 Error- Billingsley (2). 2b hits- Kemp (37), Garciaparra (6), Loney (34). SF- DeWitt. RBI- Kemp 2 (71), DeWitt (43), Ramirez (41), Loney 3 (83). LOB- Los Angeles 8, Colorado 9. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Billingsley (15-10) 6.0 6 2-2 3 3 3.02 Park 0.1 1 0-0 0 0 2.94 Elbert 0.1 0 0-0 0 1 5.79 Wade 1.1 0 0-0 0 1 2.32 Proctor 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 4.17 WP- Billingsley, HBP- by Billingsley. T- 3:02. Att- 30, 147.Dodger Blue Notes-- Matt Kemp leads the club with 37 doubles and his two RBIs on Friday were his first since Aug. 30. ...The Dodgers won a coin flip to determine home-team advantage in the case of a tie between them and Arizona. A playoff, if needed would be a one-game affair. ...The Rockies honored former Dodger before the game. Young, who retired as a member of the Rockies, hit the first home run in the franchise's inaugural home game at Mile High Stadium on April 9, 1993. He threw out the first pitch and it was caught by his father. ...Dodger killer Todd Helton was activated just minutes before the game but was struck out by Billingsley with the tying run at second base in the sixth inning.