Chad Billingsley kept the Giants off balance all day, and the Dodgers offense came alive in a 10-0 win on Saturday at AT&T Park to pull within one game of the division lead. It just so happens that it's easier to win when you score more than zero runs.
Billingsley allowed just two hits in his first seven innings,a pair of leadoff doubles in the second and fifth innings, but neither runner scored. He allowed two singles with one out in the eighth inning that ended his day, but reliever Javy Guerra got out of the jam.
Saturday was the first win for Billingsley at AT&T Park since July 13, 2007. He struck out only two batters, but he walked none and induced 14 ground ball outs. Billingsley, who won consecutive starts for the third time this season, has just one walk in four starts in July, with 19 strikeouts.
Mark Ellis batted leadoff for the first time all season, and he started the game with a single to left field. One out later, Matt Kemp blasted a pitch from Barry Zito into the seats in left center field for this 15th home run of the season, and a 2-0 Dodgers lead. The home run continued a pair of trends for Kemp.
Kemp is hitting a robust .509 (27-for-53) with eight home runs and nine walks against left-handers this season. In his career against Zito, Kemp is hitting .462 (23-for-52) with three home runs and eight walks.
But that wasn't all for Kemp, who was 4-for-5 on the day with two doubles to go with his home run, and four runs batted in.
Luis Cruz extended his hitting streak to a career best 11 games with a second inning double, then singled to open the fifth inning. A.J. Ellis doubled to Cruz to third base, and Billingsley hit a sacrifice fly to left to give the Dodgers an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.
The Dodgers added another run when double down the right field line by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the sixth inning scored Hanley Ramirez from first base, thanks in large part to the combination of Ramirez running through the stop sign from third base coach Tim Wallach and a gun-shy Buster Posey setting up in front of home plate.
Ramirez has scored a run in all four games as a Dodger, and he ended his Saturday at 2-for-5 with three runs batted in.
The Dodgers put the game away with three runs in the seventh inning, on three run scoring extra-base hits. Ellis hit his eighth home run of the season, matching his professional career high previously set in 2007 with Double A Jacksonville. Kemp and Ramirez followed with run scoring doubles to widen the Dodgers' lead to 7-0.
In their last 13 games, the Dodgers have homered in seven of those games. They have won all seven contests. In the other six games without a home run, the Dodgers have lost all six games.
The eight extra-base hits by the Dodgers on Saturday (six doubles, two home runs) are a new season high. The previous high was six extra-base hits, which they achieved three times.
If there was any downside to Saturday's game, it was that Andre Ethier left the game in the eighth inning after making a leaping catch while crashing into the right field wall in the seventh inning. It is unknown whether or not Ethier left because the Dodgers were ahead by seven runs, or because of an injury.
The Dodgers announced on Saturday that Rubby De La Rosa, nearly a year after Tommy John surgery, will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday with Class A Rancho Cucamonga. De La Rosa, who last set foot on a major league mound on July 31, 2011, will follow Ted Lilly on Sunday night at The Epicenter in Rancho Cucamonga against Lake Elsinore. Lilly is also on a rehab assignment, as he has been out since May 24 with left shoulder inflammation.
The Dodgers go for the sweep on Sunday with Clayton Kershaw on the mound in the series finale. Ryan Vogelsong gets the call for the Giants, looking for his third win against Kershaw and the Dodgers this season.
Home Runs: Matt Kemp (15), A.J. Ellis (8)
WP - Chad Billingsley (6-9): 7 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 2 strikeouts
LP - Barry Zito (8-7): 5 1/3 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts