Chad Billingsley pitched one of the best games of his career Friday night in San Diego, leading the Dodgers to a 6-0 win over the Padres for their second straight victory to open the season. The only question was, would Billingsley get his third career shutout?
Billingsley was cruising into the ninth, having retired 16 straight until Cameron Maybin singled with one out. Manager Don Mattingly pulled Billingsley after the single, ending his night at 108 pitches. Billingsley wanted to pitch the ninth, and Mattingly said he would let him pitch until one baserunner reached base.
Was it a tough call to pull Billingsley even though he was so close to a shutout?
"Not really. I'm not going to let him run up to 120 [pitches] the first time out of the gate," Mattingly said.
"You definitely never want to come out of the game, but I threw 110 pitches or so in my first game out," Billingsley said. "You never want to go overboard in the first outing. I have 30 plus more starts."
Billingsley allowed just three hits and a walk while striking out 11, the ninth time he has struck out 10 or more batters in a game in his career. He struck out seven batters in the first three innings.
"I was just getting ahead with my fastball and was able to mix in all my offspeed pitches," Billingsley said. "It was one of those days when everything felt good, good tempo, good rhythm out there."
Billingsley induced 15 swinging strikes on Friday, a total that was reached only three times in 32 starts last season, with a high of 37.
"It seemed like he had everything working really. It seemed like he had his slider going. Honey [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] has talked to him about using his slider more instead of the cutter, but he used both of them, one on the inside and one on the outside," Mattingly said. "He used his changeup some. He seemed to locate. He didn't throw many bad balls. He kept them off balance all night."
Andre Ethier had a double and a triple off Cory Luebke, and the right fielder believes his spring work will help him improve against southpaws this season, thanks to work with Mattingly and hitting coach Dave Hansen.
"That was a big focus of Donnie and Hansen," Ethier said. "We put a lot of effort during the spring to getting back to staying closed, and giving me a better shot to have the right approach and swing toward lefties rather than opening up, which was a problem last year."
- Matt Kemp had two singles, extending his hitting streak to 14 games, dating back to last season. Kemp also scored twice and stole his first base of the season.
- Juan Rivera had two hits for the second straight game, and has hit safely in eight of his nine career games at Petco Park.
- The Dodgers have beaten the Padres in 12 of their last 14 meetings, and have won eight of their last 11 games in San Diego.
Clayton Kershaw will donate $100 for every strikeout this season to Kershaw's Challenge, calling this season's incarnation of the project "Strike Out To Serve." Kershaw had a similar program in 2011, and also donated a portion of monetary bonuses he received for the many awards he won last year. Seventy percent of the money raised in 2012 will go to Arise Africa, with 10 percent each going to the Peacock Foundation in Los Angeles, Mercy Street in Dallas, and I Am Second.
Josh Lindblom will donate $52 for every game he pitches this season, major or minor league, to the L.A. Dream Center. In addition, Lindblom will donate $52 for every game pitched to his own foundation, which helps children and families in his home state of Indiana.
The Dodgers look for their third straight win Saturday night as Chris Capuano takes the hill. Capuano last started on March 30 at Camelback Ranch against the Milwaukee Brewers, but he also threw a simulated game on Monday in Anaheim before the Dodgers' Freeway Series game with the Angels.
Dustin Moseley starts for the Padres.
Time: 5:35 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket