Chad Billingsley and Trey Hillman will have a really nice trip home with the 7-3 road trip Dodgers (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The key takeaway is that the Dodgers won two games after two tough losses and finished the ten game road trip going 7-3 with today's 5-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.
However, there is a little more to the story and for that you have to go back a few weeks.
Right after the All-Star Break, I had the opportunity to cover a few games at Dodger Stadium. The Sunday game was supposed to be Chad Billingsley's first start in the second half, Billingsley had not pitched well in quite a while. When the media went downstairs into the clubhouse, we were told that Billingsley was scratched but no reason was given. We did look around and someone spotted Billingsley in the clubhouse so he was still around.
Later on, we found out about his injury, and Mattingly was pretty candid about the need for players (not only BIllingsley) to be up front since this pitching change did cause the team to make several moves they didn't plan for at that time.
Fortunately due to the All-Star Break, Billingsley really only missed a few starts and since his return, he really has been second to none on the Dodger staff.
Billingsley pitched 7 shutout innings scattering 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4, one of them being a great swing and miss by Jason Heyward. He also was perfect at the plate going 1 for 1 and a sacrifice.
If another Dodger had a better week than the 2-0 Billingsley, it was Luis Cruz, who got the Dodgers on the board with a solo shot in the 5th, hitting a booming liner down the left field line, and his second in two days.
Outside of that home run to Cruz, Mike Minor was able to get Victorino and Ellis with men in scoring position on two different occasions. Minor was taken out in the top of the 8th. Chad Durbin came in and walked Juan Uribe. Victorino, who had seen nothing but men on base after his first plate appearance, was called on to pull off a hit and run, which he did, Uribe making it to third without a play.
Mark Ellis who had also seen men on base after his first plate appearance, hit what appeared to be an easy fly ball to right field. But Jason Heyward lost the ball in the sun and Uribe scored the Dodgers second run.
Kemp, continuing his cold spell in Hot Atlanta, flew out to center and Hanley fouled out to first. Atlanta brought in one of their bullpen lefties to face Ethier, but that didn't work as he first threw a wild pitch to move the runners over into scoring position. After that, Ethier walked to load the bases. Atlanta made their 3rd pitching change of the inning bringing in Martinez to face the pinch-hitting James Loney. Loney worked to a full count but then lined out to first base to end the inning.
Ronald Belisario, who gave up the tying runs on Friday, came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th and struck out the first two batters before Bourne lined out to left to end the inning.
To the 9th, with one out A.J. Ellis got a gift double on another fly ball lost by Heyward, Adam Kennedy followed with another fly ball single where Bourne broke back and then lost the chance to catch the ball. Shane Victorino with his fourth chance with runners on base, walked to load the bases for Mark Ellis.
Mark Ellis had 10 runners on base in his last 4 plate appearances, this time didn't need a misplayed fly ball as he doubled down the left field line to clear the bases and give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.
With the save removed from consideration, Scott Elbert came back to retire the side in order, closing the game with a strikeout of Freeman.
A 7-3 roadtrip, with 3 series wins is about the best you could hope for, and the Dodgers return home to battle for first place with the Giants.
Post-Game Note: Dodger Talk Co-Host David Vaessegh (@THEREAL_DV) reported that per Hillman, Luis Cruz had a cramp.
The Dodgers head home for a six-game home stand starting with three night games against the San Francisco Giants. A duel of lefthanders will start that series as Clayton Kershaw goes against Madison Bumgarner.
Home Runs: LA - Cruz (4)
WP - Chad Billingsley (10-9) 7 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP - Mike Minor (6-10) 7 IP, 1 run, 5 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts