for this game

Billingsley helps Dodgers top Astros

Jul 3, 2008 - 10:32 PM By Ted Dunnam PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre may not have seen the best of Chad Billingsley on Thursday, but it was a performance from the hard-throwing righthander that he will take every time.

Billingsley won his fourth consecutive start and received home run support from Andre Ethier and James Loney as the Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, 5-2, at Minute Maid Park.

Billingsley (8-7) pitched eight outstanding innings, allowing two unearned runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out five.

In his previous outing, Billingsley worked seven innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 1-0, in a game where the Dodgers didn't record a hit.

"He was as good as he could be today," Torre said. "If we make the play at second base, he may not give up anything. He got tough in that eighth inning. We normally don't let our starters go out for the eighth inning, but he seemed so comfortable and his pitch count was so good."

Billingsley only threw 92 pitches and wasn't fancy in his approach against the Astros.

"I think I got through the first four innings with three or four off-speed pitches," Billingsley said. "I didn't start throwing breaking pitches until the fifth or sixth inning. I was just throwing a four-seamer and a two-seamer, and I was locating them.

"I was getting first-pitch strikes, and that made it easier. We swung the bats good today, and hopefully we can finish strong going into the (All-Star) break."

Takashi Saito allowed a pair of singles in the ninth but got J.R. Towles on a soft flyout to shortstop Angel Berroa to secure his 14th save.

The Dodgers roughed up Brandon Backe (5-9) in the first inning with a two-out rally for a 3-0 lead.

After Russell Martin singled and Jeff Kent walked, Loney blooped a double down the left field line that bounced into the stands for a 1-0 lead. Rookie Blake DeWitt followed with a single to drive home Kent and Loney.

"It was one of those things that has been happening to me all year," Backe said of Loney's double. "That was the backbreaker more than anything."

Ethier hit a blast to left leading off the third inning, extending the advantage to 4-0.

Houston scored two unearned runs in the fifth following second baseman Luis Maza's two-out error on a routine grounder by Geoff Blum. Hunter Pence singled to right before Towles belted a two-run double off the left field wall to pull Houston within 4-2.

Loney began the sixth with his seventh homer for a 5-2 score, helping Los Angeles win the final three games of the four-game series.

"If we keep playing like this, we should be in great shape," Loney said. "The defense and hitting was good today, and we've been pitching great all year."

Backe surrendered five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight.

Astros manager Cecil Cooper said Backe's first-inning troubles put the Astros in a hole immediately.

"(Backe) was up in the zone and didn't have the crispness on his fastball," Cooper said. "They get the first run on the blooper. Backe just wasn't sharp in the first inning."

Torre is encouraged by the state of his team entering a three-game series with San Francisco.

"We've played these last three games with a sense of determination," Torre said. "I have a good feel about the way we've gone after it. There's been a lot of animation in the dugout."

Kent left the game in the fifth inning with back stiffness.

"Hopefully, he'll be back tomorrow," Torre said. "He took a funny swing and he got his back locked up."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    LA DODGERS 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 8 2
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 8 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: LOS - CHAD BILLINGSLEY, TAKASHI SAITO (9TH) AND RUSSELL MARTIN
    HOU - BRANDON BACKE, GEOFF GEARY (7TH), DOUG BROCAIL
    (9TH), TIM BYRDAK (9TH) AND J.R. TOWLES

    HOME R

    Jul 3 5:00 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JAMES LONEY (7) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    6TH OFF BRANDON BACKE.
    CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 5, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR LA DODGERS: B DEWITT (.263, 1-FOR-2, 2 RBI)

    Dodgers 5, Astros 2  Top 6, 0 OutsJul 3 3:29 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY J.R. TOWLES SCORED GEOFF BLUM AND HUNTER PENCE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 4
    HOUSTON 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B BACKE (.333, 0-FOR-1)

    Dodgers 4, Astros 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 3 3:25 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ANDRE ETHIER (9) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    3RD OFF BRANDON BACKE.
    CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 4, HOUSTON 0
    DUE UP FOR LA DODGERS: R MARTIN (.310, 1-FOR-1)

    Dodgers 4, Astros 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 3 2:41 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    LA DODGERS 3 3 3 0
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: LOS - CHAD BILLINGSLEY
    HOU - BRANDON BACKE

    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M BOURN (.225, 4 HR, 15 RBI)
    M LORETTA (.257, 3 HR, 21 RBI)
    L BERKMAN (.358, 22 HR, 68 RB

    Dodgers 3, Astros 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsJul 3 2:25 PM