"Every time [Jonathan Broxton's] coming in, it's been pretty much just lights out, so I have all the confidence in the world in him finishing it."
-Chad Billingsley, September 9, 2005
The Dodgers needed a good game to break out of their problematic Houston series, and that's exactly what they got from ace Chad Billingsley and fireman Joanthan Broxton tonight.
Billingsley continued his coronation, with his fourth quality start and fourth win in as many starts this season. Billingsley allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out five. He has now allowed only six runs and 23 baserunners in 26.1 innings so far this season, while striking out 26. Billingsley retired 22 Astros, leaving the other five outs for his closer.
Jonathan Broxton entered the game with a man on first and the tying run, Hunter Pence, at the plate, with one out in the eighth inning. After getting two outs to end the eighth, Broxton struck out big boppers Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee after Miguel Tejada singled to open the ninth inning. After Geoff Blum was awarded first base on his Oscar-worthy performance on a ball in the dirt -- claiming that it hit him in the foot -- Broxton induced a game-ending groundout from Darin Erstad (Note: I refuse to make a snide remark about Erstad occupying a major league roster spot when I can look on the Dodger bench and see Juan Castro), closing out the 2-0 win.
The Dodgers opened the game with both Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson getting on base, as they amazingly did in the first inning of all three games in the series. A single by Manny Ramirez gave the Dodgers a lead they would never relinquish. A double by The Beard scored The Bison in the seventh inning, giving those of us with MLB Network the absolute treat of watching Matt Kemp run.
Tonight's game marked only the second time in their young careers that a winning Billingsley handed the ball (not literaly of course) to Broxton for the save, the first coming last July against the Nationals. Before that, the last time a game featured only Billingsley and Broxton on the mound was the opening game of the 2005 Southern League playoffs, a game in which they combined on a no-hitter.
About a week ago, Manny Ramirez was struggling at the plate, not doing much besides walking. Were you worried? I hope not, because Manny has 11 hits in his last 25 at bats, with four home runs, elevating his seasonal line to .345/.486/.618. Get ready to see more of Manny this Saturday at noon on This Week in Baseball, which will also have a feature on Tommy Lasorda.
The Dodgers travel to Coors Field tomorrow, with Eric Stults opposing Aaron Cook.