The Dodgers lost the battle of the bullpens to the Padres on Monday night, as a pair of seventh inning runs lifted San Diego to a 6-3 win at Dodger Stadium. It marked the third loss in the last four games for the Dodgers, who dropped to a game above .500 (7-6).
As a group, five Dodgers relief pitchers threw 38 balls, 36 strikes, walked six and struck out just one on Monday night, helping to swing the battle of the bullpens toward San Diego after both starters allowed three runs in six innings.
Ronald Belisario, who on Saturday allowed a pair of inherited runners to score, got a taste of his own medicine on Monday, which started on an ominous note from Mark Saxon at ESPN LA:
In what could be a terrible sign for Padre hitters this inning, Ronald Belisario is not wearing his glasses— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) April 16, 2013
Belisario didn't retire any of the three batters he faced, and left with the bases loaded and nobody out. Paco Rodriguez added to the wildness by walking his first hitter for one run, then induced a double play for a second score in the inning.
The Padres added an insurance run in the ninth for good measure.
Chad Billingsley got himself into a jam in the second inning with two runners on and two out, but luckily old friend Eric Stults was there to provide the safety valve ... wait, what? Stults worked a seven-pitch at-bat then crushed a Billingsley fastball to left center field for a sudden 3-0 San Diego lead.
The home run was not only the first of the career for Stults, who you may recall was used as a pinch hitter by Padres manager Bud Black last week. It was also the first home run Billingsley has ever allowed to a pitcher in his entire career, and the first home run by a pitcher against the Dodgers since Ross Ohlendorf took Dana Eveland deep on Sept. 15, 2011.
The three-run deficit might have looked insurmountable given the Dodgers' offensive woes of late, but the Dodgers chipped away and tied the game with single runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground rule double in the third inning that had it not bounced into the stands in right center field would have easily scored two runs, but Matt Kemp was held at third base, then stranded there.
Billingsley wasn't at his sharpest on Monday, but allowed nothing beyond the Stults home run in his six innings. Billingsley allowed seven hits and two walks on Monday and struck out three, his second quality start in as many outings and the Dodgers' 11th quality start in 13 games, tops in the majors.
The Dodgers put the tying runs in scoring position in the eighth inning, only to see the rally end in a bizarre 1-3-2 double play. Pinch hitter Skip Schumaker tapped out to the mound, then as pitcher Luke Gregerson threw to first base catcher A.J. Ellis broke for home, where he was easily thrown out.
- Kemp went 2-for-5 with a double and has a six-game hitting streak on Jackie Robinson Day, hitting .462 (12-for-26) in his career on Apr. 15.
- Andre Ethier went 0-for-3 to snap his six-game Jackie Robinson Day hitting streak, but did draw a walk.
Carl Crawford went 3-for-5 to raise his batting average to .396. He has eight multi-hit games in 11 starts this season.
- Mark Ellis moved to third base in the ninth inning, his first time playing the position since Sept. 21, 2002 when with the Athletics, one of seven games at third base in his rookie campaign. Ellis only stayed at the position for two batters before moving back to second in another double switch.
Home runs: Eric Stults (1)
WP - Eric Stults (2-1): 6 IP, 9 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Ronald Belisario (0-2): 0 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks
Sv - Huston Street (2): 1 IP, 1 hit