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Billingsley Looks To Stay In Groove Against Braves

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Chad Billingsley has a 2.82 ERA in his last eight starts.
Chad Billingsley has a 2.82 ERA in his last eight starts.

Chad Billingsley hopes to build on his recent run of success as the Dodgers face the Braves in the third game of the four-game series.  Billingsley went eight innings for the fifth time in his career on Monday.  In his career, his next start after throwing eight innings has provided mixed results:

Chad Billingsley Starts Immediately After 8+ IP
Date Opp IP H R ER BB K Game
7/29/07 @Col 4.1 5 4 4 3 4 L, 9-6
7/8/08 Atl 5.1 6 6 5 4 8 L, 9-3
8/5/08 @StL 5.0 6 1 1 0 6 L, 4-6
7/10/09 @Mil 5.0 5 5 5 4 4 W, 12-8
Totals 19.2 22 16 15 11 22 6.86 ERA

This is mostly a coincidence; I don't think there is something about pitching eight innings that saps Billingsley for his next start.  More important is how Billingsley has been throwing of late, and he is 5-2 in his last eight starts with a 2.82 ERA and a 3.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Neither starting pitcher tonight has much of a history against the opponent.  No Brave has faced Billingsley more than 12 times, and Tommy Hanson has only pitched once against the Dodgers, facing no batter more than three times.  In that start, last July 31 in Atlanta (you may remember it as the Jason Schmidt Game), Andre Ethier hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning off Hanson.

Ethier has played five games since his return from the disabled list.  He had one hit in 14 at-bats in his first three games, but anecdotally seemed to hit the ball hard into several outs.  In the last two games, Ethier has three hits in seven at-bats, including a pair of doubles.  Ethier's current streak of eight straight home games without a home run is by far his longest of the season; his second-longest home homerless streak this year is three games.

Dodger relief pitchers have not given up a run on the homestand.  Hong-Chih Kuo gave up the game-tying single in the seventh last night, but those runs were charged to Clayton Kershaw.  The Dodger bullpen has allowed 14 baserunners and had 14 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings in their five games this week.

Hurting Hot Corner

Both starting third basemen have yet to play in this series.  Casey Blake was a late scratch Thursday night with back spasms.  He will likely miss at least tonight's game as well, per Tony Jackson of ESPN LA:

The result of the MRI exam on Dodgers third baseman Blake's lower back showed nothing more than irritation. Blake probably won't return to the lineup until at least Sunday.

Chipper Jones is battling a swollen finger and figured yesterday that he might be headed for the disabled list, per David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Jones might get a cortisone injection if the finger isn’t better by Saturday. The shot could keep him out several more days, and the Braves might consider disabling him if he’s not ready to play by then.

"I would imagine we’ll probably wait and see if I get the shot, whether or not I can help off the bench for the time being," he said. " If I can’t, there’s only so long he can wait before they need another body."

"There's Your Run"

I watched Prime 9 on MLB Network this morning, and the starting lineup of the 1960s was chosen.  Maury Wills was picked as the shortstop, and he shared this anecdote:

When I'd score that one run, if it was in the first second or third inning, we'd go to Sandy Koufax and say, 'There it is, Sandy.  There it is, your one run.' I always wanted to be that guy that got that one run he needed.

I have heard Wills talk about this so many times, it is burned in my memory.  I decided to check just how often it actually happened.  Sandy Koufax retired after the 1966 season, so I limited the search to 1960-1966.  The Dodgers did lead the National League in 1-0 wins during that time, with 25:

Most 1-0 Wins 1960-66 NL
Team 1-0 Wins
Dodgers 25
Reds 19
Braves 16
Pirates 15
Giants 13
Phillies 12
Astros 12
Mets 12
Cardinals 11
Cubs 10

Of those 25 games, Maury Wills scored the lone run just four times:  once in 1964, twice in 1965, and once in 1966.  Koufax started none of those games.  I once heard John Madden, the broadcaster, talk about how disappointed he was when he finally saw the Delaware River in person, that it was so narrow that it diminished in his mind the accomplishment of George Washington crossing the river.  I'm not at that level of disappointment here; I'm sure there were games when Wills would score the first run for Koufax, then say 'there's your run,' but the Dodgers would go on to score more runs.  But I did expect there to be more games than just four, that's for sure.

The Dodgers have three 1-0 wins this season, including back-to-back wins this week.  The Los Angeles Dodger record for most 1-0 wins in a season is seven, in both the 1963 and 1984 seasons.

Get your guess in for Xeifrank's simulation game here.

Game Time: 7:10 p.m

TV: Prime Ticket

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