Chad Billingsley labored through the first four batters of the game, but then looked as good as he has ever looked on the mound, leading the Dodgers to a 3-1 win over the Nationals Sunday at Dodger Stadium. On Saturday night, the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning, only to settle for one run. Today, Washington returned the favor.
Billingsley got two strikes on Roger Bernadina, the first batter of the game, but then walked the Nats' leadoff hitter in what became a 10-pitch plate appearance. That was a harbinger of things to come in the top of the first inning, as Billingsley hit the next batter, allowed a single, then allowed an RBI single by Mike Morse to give Washington a 1-0 lead. Billingsley at this point had thrown 23 pitches, didn't retire a batter, was down 1-0, and faced the specter of a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation.
Then, Billingsley got to work.
He fanned Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, and Jesus Flores in succession to escape further damage in the first. Then, Billingsley struck out two in the second inning, one in the third, and two more in the fourth inning. After a 38-pitch first inning, Billingsley threw 42 pitches over the next three frames, then just 35 over his next three innings. After allowing the run in the first inning, Billingsley allowed only a walk to Jayson Werth, and retired the final 12 batters he faced, and 21 of the last 22.
The Dodgers scored in the first thanks to three singles and a Nationals catcher dropping a ball for a sure out for the second straight game. After Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp singled, number five hitter Aaron Miles hit a single to center field. It scored Andre Ethier (who had forced Furcal) easily, but for some reason third base coach Tim Wallach sent Kemp home on the play. Kemp would have been out by about 20 feet, but Flores dropped the ball, giving the Dodgers the lead.
In the third inning, Aaron Miles walked on four pitches to load the bases against Jason Marquis with one out. James Loney, however, swung at the first pitch and grounded into what looked to be a sure inning-ending double play, but Miles barreled into the bag at second, forcing a bad throw by shortstop Ian Desmond, allowing Loney to reach base and Furcal to score, making it 3-1 Dodgers.
- Dodgers pitchers retired the final 18 batters of the game, and 27 of the final 28, allowing only a walk during that span.
- Today was the eighth double-digit strikeout game of Billingsley's career, and second this season. It was also the first time Billingsley has struck out exactly 10 batters in a game.
- Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless eighth inning and since coming off the disabled list on June 18 has a streak of 14 consecutive scoreless innings. He struck out the first batter he faced, Alex Cora, which ran Jansen's streak to six consecutive strikeouts, but Jansen settled for a pop out and ground out to end the inning.
- Javy Guerra pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his seventh save of the season, tying Jonathan Broxton for the team lead.
- The Dodgers open a three-game series with Colorado Monday night, with Rubby De La Rosa facing Juan Nicasio in the opener.
WP - Chad Billingsley (9-8): 7 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
LP - Jason Marquis (8-5): 6 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Javy Guerra (7): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts