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Dodgers Could Use Some Relief From Starters

After getting poor starts out of Vicente Padilla and Clayton Kershaw in the first two games of the season, the Dodgers turn to Chad Billingsley today, as they try to salvage one game in Pittsburgh, a place they suddenly can't win.  After winning 23 of their first 30 games at PNC Park, the Dodgers have lost five out of their last six, including their last four.  Vicente Padilla (4 1/3 innings) and Clayton Kershaw (4 2/3 innings) each failed to go five innings, only the fourth time since moving to Los Angeles that a Dodger starter failed to pitch five innings in each of the first two games of the season:

Rough Starts To The Season
Year Starting Pitchers (Innings)
1967 Bob Miller (4.0), Claude Osteen (2.2), Don Sutton (4.1)
1998 Ramon Martinez (4.2), Chan Ho Park (4.2), Hideo Nomo (4.0)
2002 Kevin Brown (4.0), Hideo Nomo (3.0)
2010     Padilla (4.1), Kershaw (4.2)

Billingsley had a solid spring, or at least he did before his final exhibition start against the Angels on Saturday.  Billingsley, who allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings, told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times he learned from the experience:

"Pitchers, we have the tendency to give hitters too much credit," Billingsley said. "There are times I try to be perfect when I don't have to be."

His habit of nibbling instead of trusting his stuff cost him against the Angels.

Today's pitching matchup is a battle of 2003 first-round draft picks, as the 24th pick (Billingsley) faces off against the eighth pick, Paul Maholm.  Maholm has made six career starts against the Dodgers, and has given up at least three runs in each game, five of which were won by the Dodgers.  In those six starts, Maholm has a 5.59 ERA in 37 innings, with 18 walks against just 15 strikeouts.

Chad Billingsley

#58 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers





Jul 29, 1984

Paul Maholm

#28 / Pitcher / Pittsburgh Pirates





Jun 25, 1982

Other Notes

  • Manager Joe Torre said Manny Ramirez would sit today, getting the day game after a night game off.  In addition, Ronnie Belliard will start, either for Casey Blake at third base or James Loney at first base.
  • The Dodgers gave up just 11 three-run home runs in 2009, but have already given up two this season: one to Ryan Doumit on Monday, and one to Garrett Jones last night.
  • The Dodgers have four hits in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series.
  • Dodger pinch hitters have two hits in five at-bats so far this season.
  • Rafael Furcal stole two bases last night for the 12th time as a Dodger.  The Dodgers are 9-3 in those games, including last night's loss.
  • If all goes well back-to-back rehabilitation games next week, Ronald Belisario could be activated in less than two weeks, reported Ken Gurnick of

UPDATEAndre Ethier is out with a swollen ankle, says Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, who also reports that x-rays were negative.

Xeifrank's simulation of today's game is here.

Time: 9:35am

TV: Prime Ticket

Baseball Reference Preview | Box Score | Gameday