Whether they hit the ball 40 feet or 426 feet, the Dodgers were able to string together some hits Tuesday night, several at opportune times, beating the Tigers 6-1 for their third straight win. The offense, more than the Dodgers had scored in their last three games combined, was more than enough to support Chad Billingsley, who had a nice bounce back start after struggling in June.
The Dodgers also welcomed back Hong-Chih Kuo, who made his first appearance with the Dodgers since May 9. Kuo, who had the yips and was placed on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, came back throwing strikes tonight, retiring the side in the eighth inning. Kuo threw nine pitches, seven for strikes, and struck out the first batter he faced, Brennan Boesch.
Tony Gwynn Jr. delivered the Dodgers second run with a little dribbler in between the pitcher's mound and the third base line, a play Gwynn beat out at first base with two outs as Aaron Miles scored from third. While that was the shortest hit of the night for the Dodgers, Andre Ethier delivered the longest, a two-run home run on a 3-0 count off Max Scherzer. Ethier's home run, his second in his last five games, was estimated at 426 feet , according to Jim Alexander of the Press Enterprise.
Billingsley had improved location from his past few starts, though he still threw a lot of pitches - 110 in 5 1/3 innings. He had his trouble with the first four hitters of the lineup, who went 6-for-12 with a walk, but retired everyone else (0-for-10 with a walk). Billingsley also struck out six on the night, and only allowed one run, even getting helped when Mike MacDougal entered the game with inherited runners.
Mac The Sixth relieved Billingsley with the bases loaded and one out, and had to face pinch hitter Miguel Cabrera, who got a rare day out of the lineup thanks in part to his 0-for-12 off Billingsley. In a 4-1 game at the time, Cabrera was the go-ahead run, looking very much the part, but he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
In the Dodgers' 75th game of the season, Matt Kemp stole two bases in the seventh inning, giving him 20 steals on the season. Not only did that surpass his 2010 stolen base total, in 11 fewer attempts, but also gave Kemp the 13th season in Dodgers history with 20 home runs and 20 steals. Kemp is also the only Dodger ever to join the club before half the season is over, and is the second Dodger to have 20/20 by the All-Star break. In 1979, Davey Lopes had 20 home runs and 21 steals in 91 team games before the break (through both 75 and 81 games, Lopes had 18 homers and 20 steals). Kemp also joined the 20-20 club in 2009, with 26 home runs and 34 steals.
- Aaron Miles had two hits in three at-bats tonight, and has 20 hits in his last 40 at-bats, dating back over his last 13 games.
- The RBI single by A.J. Ellis in the second inning gave the Dodgers three straight games with an RBI by a catcher
- The Dodgers as a team struck out 11 Tigers for the second straight night, as well as striking out the side in the ninth inning for the second consecutive game. The last time the Dodgers had back-to-back games with double-digit strikeouts as a team was May 23-24 in Houston.
- Vampire Ted Lilly pitches under the sun tomorrow as the Dodgers go for the sweep, against Rick Porcello
WP - Chad Billingsley (6-6): 5 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Max Scherzer (9-3): 6 IP, 9 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts