Dodgers Working Hard With Billingsley

No matter what the Dodgers do, they can't seem to stop Chad Billingsley from heading in the wrong direction. The struggling starter is being skipped in the rotation this time through, but was given a chance to come out of the bullpen Friday against the San Francisco Giants. The right-hander gave up two runs in 1.2 innings, needing 47 pitches to get his five outs.

"I'm trying to figure something out, that's all I'm trying to do," said Billingsley, who has a 6.00 ERA over his last four starts. "I don't think it's velocity."

That's the problem, really. The Dodgers don't seem to have a handle on what is wrong. They say Billingsley isn't injured and his mechanics aren't terrible. What does seem obvious is that his brief appearance Friday might have done more harm than good. "He just needed to go out and get some work," manager Joe Torre said. "He threw a good number of pitches. He'll be on the mound Wednesday. He's been down this road too often as one of our starters to have a couple of runs affect anything."

NOTES, QUOTES --RHP Jon Garland will head into Saturday's start against the Giants with a 2-0 record and a 3.32 ERA in his first three outings with the Dodgers. In his previous start Sept. 14 against the Pirates, Garland escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and gave up two runs over six innings to pick up the victory.

--PH Jim Thome is the only late-season acquisition that hasn't provided immediate dividends. He has just one hit, a single, in seven pinch-hit appearances. He also missed six games with an injured heel. Ronnie Belliard, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, all acquired since August, have each made significant contributions.

BY THE NUMBERS: 40 -- Doubles for Andre Ethier, the first time a Dodgers player has reached 40 doubles since Shawn Green did it in 2003. The 40 doubles are tied with Raul Mondesi (1996) and Eric Karros (1999) for sixth most in club history. In fifth place is Mondesi again with 42 doubles in 1997.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As Yogi (Berra) would say, it's deja vu all over again. You've seen him do it, you want to visualize it and when he does it, it's just surreal. We talk about guys growing up and this kid is just growing as he goes." -- Manager Joe Torre, on Andre Ethier, who hit his fourth walk-off home run of the season Sept. 15 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

ROSTER REPORT --RF Andre Ethier has been putting the hurt on National League West pitching. He has the most hits (76) of anybody against the NL West, as well as the most doubles (17), RBI (51) and extra-base hits (31). His 14 home runs against the division are tied for first with Mark Reynolds.

--CF Matt Kemp is on a modest 10-game hit streak, batting .310 (13-for-42) over that stretch. He has three doubles, a home run and six RBI in that span. Kemp also stole his 34th base Friday, leaving him one off his career high of 35 set in 2008. His stolen-base total is third best in the National League.

--LF Manny Ramirez hit a home run Friday, giving the Dodgers at least one homer in eight consecutive games. It tied the team's longest home-run streak this season. They last did it Aug. 25-Sept. 2. Ramirez has six home runs and 13 RBI in his last 16 games.

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