When the Dodgers couldn't put a runner even as far as second base through the first seven innings, things didn't look good. When putative closer Javy Guerra allowed a leadoff double and then hit two batters to open the ninth inning, things looked even worse. But in the end, somehow, some way, the Dodgers came out with a 1-0 victory over the Padres in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Chad Billingsley was a huge part of why the Dodgers were even in the game late, though he had a little help from his friends. The Dodgers turned double plays to end the third and fourth innings. "I asked A.J. [Ellis] around the fourth or fifth inning how Chad was doing, and [Ellis] said, 'He's all over,'" manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "[Billingsley] kept pitching, using all his stuff, and he settled in. That is really what you want to see."
Billingsley seemed to get a key ground ball whenever he needed it, and did record 11 groundouts on the night. It was needed because he allowed baserunners in seven of his eight innings. Which is more than can be said for the Dodger offense.
The Dodgers didn't have a runner in scoring position until the eighth inning, but once they got their chance they were able to push across one run. Singles by A.J. Ellis and Tony Gwynn in the eighth inning set the stage for Rafael Furcal, who was 2-for-19 since his return from the disabled list. Furcal delivered a single through the hole at second base to plate the only run the Dodgers would need.
Only it looked like that run wouldn't hold up.
Guerra, who entered the game in the ninth inning in the Dodgers' first save opportunity since June 19, a span of 17 games. But three batters in, things looked bleak for the Dodgers, as San Diego had the bases loaded with nobody out. When 27-year old rookie Kyle Phillips came to the plate, I became legitimately scared since I knew nothing of this man. Once I learned he was the brother of former Dodger catcher, first baseman, and goggle wearer Jason Phillips, I became terrified. When Guerra ran the count on Phillips to 3-1, I was happy I didn't already write the game recap because there would be nothing I would have to delete.
Phillips struck out. The crowd got loud.
Will Venable struck out. The crowd got louder. Could Guerra really get out of this?
Guerra got two strikes on Jason Bartlett, and by this point a strikeout seemed a fitting way to end the game. Only Bartlett didn't oblige, lining a ball to short center field that looked like it might drop for two runs...until Matt Kemp picked it off to end the game.
The crowd erupted! Yes, for a team that is still in last place, a team still 11 games out , a team that is full of flaws, there are still moments to enjoy, on the field.
- Billingsley has pitched eight innings in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career
- Billingsley in his last nine home starts against the Padres is 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA, with 25 walks and 54 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings.
- The Dodgers had back-to-back shutouts for the second time this season (also June 19-20), and had their second 1-0 win of the year.
- The Padres have scored one run in their last 26 innings.
- Mat Latos pitched very well, and probably deserved to win, but one T now has 10 Ls.
Rod Barajas had two singles in five at-bats tonight as designated hitter for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the second game of his rehab assignment. Barajas is scheduled to catch on Saturday, then take Sunday off.
- Rubby De La Rosa starts tomorrow afternoon for the Dodgers, facing Aaron Harang of the Padres.
WP - Chad Billingsley (8-7): 8 IP, 4 hits, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP - Mat Latos (5-10): 7 1/3 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv - Javy Guerra (3): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 HBP, 2 strikeouts