The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t been over .500 for two months. Getting over that hump on Wednesday would probably come at the perfect time.
Los Angeles (53-53) posted its third shutout in four games, 2-0 on Tuesday to remain one game behind first-place Arizona in the NL West. The Dodgers will begin a four-game home series with the Diamondbacks on Thursday.
They’d prefer to sport a winning record for the first time since being 26-25 after games of May 27 when that key series starts. The Dodgers are hoping that Billingsley - possibly their most consistent starter - can earn his first win of the year against an NL West foe.
Billingsley (10-9, 3.26 ERA) is 0-5 with a 5.72 ERA against division opponents this season, although he has yet to start against the Giants (44-62) in 2008, going 0-0 with a 10.80 ERA in two career starts against them. He made one relief appearance against San Francisco on April 2, retiring one batter and allowing one run and two hits in a 2-1 loss.
The right-hander is 6-2 with a 2.60 ERA in his last eight outings, with 55 strikeouts over 52 innings in that span. He yielded two runs over 7 2-3 innings to beat Washington 3-2 last Friday.
Billingsley is sixth in the majors with 137 strikeouts.
“He hides the ball really well for a guy who throws 94-95 at times. And when you’re a pitcher who throws that hard and can hide the ball, you’re going to be dominant,” Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said Friday. “When our pitcher keeps us in the ballgame like that, it gives us the confidence that we can still work on their guy.”
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp went 2-for-4 on Tuesday to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 games. Kemp is hitting .368 (25-for-68) during his run.
San Francisco managed only five hits Tuesday and lost for the 13th time in 18 games. Bengie Molina went 0-for-4 for the second straight night and is mired in an 8-for-42 (.190) slump over his last 12 games.
The Giants have also lost four straight games started by Jonathan Sanchez (8-6, 4.46) after winning 13 of his first 17 outings this season. Sanchez is 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA in his last four starts, lasting past the fifth inning just once in that span.
The left-hander turned in his shortest outing of the season Friday, allowing six runs over 2 2-3 innings in a 10-2 loss at Arizona.
“Actually, I thought he had good stuff,” manager Bruce Bochy insisted to the Giants’ official Web site.
This will be Sanchez’s first career start at Dodger Stadium. He has started against Los Angeles twice, including once this season when he yielded three runs over five innings and did not get a decision in a 10-7 loss on July 4.