Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 3
PHOENIX (AP)—The Los Angeles Dodgers’ brief funk is over, and they’re headed home with a two-game lead in the NL West.
After being swept in San Diego, the Dodgers regrouped to take the last two in a three game series in Phoenix. With San Diego’s 6-3 loss at Colorado, Los Angeles pulled two games ahead of the second-place Padres in the division.
“We’re fine,” Furcal said. “We forget about what happened in San Diego. Now we’re two ahead and it’s a pretty good series for us.”
The Diamondbacks, losers of six of seven, fell five games back and stayed 3 1/2 behind Cincinnati in the wild-card race.
“The longer this goes on,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said, “the less ground we can afford to lose.”
Rookie Chad Billingsley (5-3) beat Arizona for the second time in as many tries. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed two runs on nine hits in seven innings to improve to 4-0 in his last six starts.
“I tell you what, that little kid has a live ball,” Arizona’s Orlando Hudson said. “He’s just like Matt Cain, throws hard, got a good curveball. He moves it up and it’s kind of hard to layoff, throws it down, keeps it out. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Billingsley struck out one and walked one.
“I think early on when this kid joined the ballclub, he was in a little bit more of a strikeout mode than he is now,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “He knows that he’s got a good ballclub behind him, that they’ll make the plays.”
Billingsley said he’s just being himself.
“How I’m pitching now is how I’ve always pitched in my career. I’m getting settled in real good and believing in myself and trusting in myself,” he said. “This is really how I throw. I wasn’t trusting myself when I first got up. I was learning and giving the hitter too much credit.”
Takashi Saito came on with runners on first and second with one out in the ninth. He gave up a two-out, RBI double to Eric Byrnes, allowing the tying run to come to the plate, before striking out Orlando Hudson for his 16th save in 18 chances
Byrnes led off the Arizona first with a single, then Hudson’s bunt rolled down the third-base line in fair territory for a base hit. Chad Tracy’s two-out single to right brought Byrnes home.
Livan Hernandez (10-11) blanked the Dodgers through four innings, but Andre Ethier led off the fifth with a double. Russell Martin drew a one-out intentional walk. With two outs, Furcal tripled to deep right-center to bring home both runners. Kenny Lofton followed with an RBI single to left and it was 3-1.
Luis Gonzalez’s 531st career double—into the right-field corner—brought Hudson home from first with two outs in the fifth to cut the lead to 3-2. Gonzalez moved into a tie with Rogers Hornsby for 22nd on the career doubles list. Gonzalez leads the National League in doubles with 46, one shy of his career high.
In the sixth, Ethier singled, then Betemit—4-for-30 on the Dodgers’ road trip until then—hit Hernandez’s 3-2 pitch just over the fence in right for his team-leading 15th home run and Los Angeles led 5-2. Jeff Kent doubled home J.D. Drew from first off reliever Brandon Medders with two outs in the seventh to make it 6-2.
Hernandez gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three, one intentionally. He is 1-3 since coming to Arizona from Washington.
“There’s nothing you can do but try to be ready for the next one,” Hernandez said. “I never put my head down, because if you put your head down, you’re not a professional.”
The Diamondbacks had runners at first and third with one out in the sixth but Chris Snyder grounded into a double play. Arizona drew leadoff walks in the seventh and eighth only to have them erased by double plays.
Jon Hooker, a close friend and former college teammate of Arizona RHP Brandon Webb, and his new bride were among those killed in Sunday’s commuter plane crash in Kentucky. Webb, who declined comment on the death, is scheduled to start Monday night against San Diego. … Billingsley has allowed two runs in 14 innings against the Diamondbacks this season. … All nine Dodgers starters had at least one hit.