MILWAUKEE (AP)—With third baseman Blake DeWitt sidelined because of an aching lower back, Dodgers coach Larry Bowa suggested to manager Joe Torre just before the game that he play Chin-Lung Hu as a fill-in.
Torre tossed aside the advice of his friend and decided instead to start backup catcher Gary Bennett, who hadn’t played in more than a week.
Bennett hit a three-run homer, and Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent added solo shots during a six-run seventh inning to lead Chad Billingsley and the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2 Thursday.
“Great suggestion, obviously,” Torre deadpanned.
Bennett also added an RBI double in the ninth in his first action since May 7, while regular catcher Russell Martin played third base for the fifth time in his career. Nomar Garciaparra is still on the disabled list.
“Even when you’re not playing, you still come in and get your work done. It’s not like if you’re not playing, you just sit on the couch and do nothing,” said Bennett, who was told 15 minutes before the game that he would start. “You still get your work for situations just like that. You never know, one foul tip in the first inning and you can end up in the game. I just always try to stay as ready as I can.”
Billingsley (3-5) didn’t allow a hit until Brewers starter Ben Sheets, a career .078 hitter, singled with two outs in the fifth.
Billingsley gave up three hits and struck out five. The 23-year-old right-hander was pulled with a 6-0 lead after giving up Jason Kendall’s leadoff triple in the eighth and walking his fourth batter.
“I just really had good command with the fastball and was able to throw it where I wanted to and keep it down in the zone,” Billingsley said.
“It was a hectic day,” said Braun, who hit his 10th homer this season.
Still, the Dodgers showed most of the power. After coming in tied for last in the NL with 26 homers, Los Angeles jumped on Sheets (4-1) with a surge in the seventh.
“I’m sure it looked baffling,” said Sheets, who dismissed any physical problems. “I would say that’s probably my worst inning ever, personally. I don’t know if it statistically is. But it wasn’t a good inning.”
Jones, hitting .182, turned on a high fastball for a solo homer to lead off the inning, his second homer and seventh RBI this season. After an out, Sheets hung a breaking ball and Kent made it 2-0.
“He made a mistake and I was able to take advantage of it,” Jones said. “In that inning all of sudden, he started throwing balls up and we were able to hit him.”
Sheets then came unraveled. James Loney tripled and scored on Martin’s single. Luis Maza’s first career hit put runners at the corners with one out and set up Bennett’s homer, the 22nd of his 13-year career.
Sheets was finished after Bennett’s homer, allowing six runs and nine hits. He had five strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings after starting 4-0 for the first time in his career.
“Runs are like gold when you are talking about Ben Sheets. He was pitching so well and then to get the three-run homer, that was huge,” Torre said. “If you go out there and control the game with your starting pitching, it gives you a chance to do things. You can think small and all of a sudden, you throw up a six spot.”
The Brewers put RHP David Riske (hyperextended right elbow) on the 15-day DL and purchased the contract of journeyman minor league pitcher Mark DiFelice. DiFelice has never pitched in the majors, spending 11 years in the minors. … Torre chatted with Bobby Thomson in the Brewers dugout before the game. Thomson, famous for the 1951 NL pennant-winning homer, was in town as part of a celebration of the Milwaukee Braves. Thomson played for the Braves from 1954-57, while Torre started his career with the Braves in 1960.