Chad Billingsley was great tonight on the mound, and delivered at the plate, too, leading the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the Giants in the first game of a three-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium.
Billingsley came into the game tonight having allowed just two runs in 21 2/3 innings against the Giants this season, and he managed to lower that ERA, from 0.83 to 0.61. He is no Larry Jaster, but 0.61 will get it done. Billingsley allowed just two unearned runs in the fourth inning, which came after an error by Rafael Furcal in his first game back after missing 28 games with a lower back strain.
Furcal made a wonderful diving play to his right earlier in the game, getting a force out at second base and robbing Jose Guillen of a base hit.
Not only did Billingsley strikeout seven while only allowing two hits and two walks, but he also broke a tie with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning, that landed just in front of Jose Guillen.
Billingsley was supported earlier by Rod Barajas, who continued living the dream with his fourth home run for his hometown team in just his eighth game as a Dodger. This is the fourth series Barajas has played with the Dodgers, and he has hit a home run in each one.
Barry Zito was pulled after just four innings, in a 4-2 game. It was a move reminiscent of Bob Lemon pinch hitting for Tommy John in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series, although that was a 1-1 game at the time.
Ted Lilly and Matt Cain do battle in game two tomorrow night.
WP - Chad Billingsley (11-8): 8 IP, 2 hits, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
LP - Barry Zito (8-11): 4 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Hong-Chih Kuo (8): 3 up, 3 down