LOS ANGELES (AP)—The luck of the draw has a lot to do with the way baseball games—and home run streaks—turn out. Adam Dunn had connected in a franchise record-tying five straight games for the Cincinnati Reds before facing Chad Billingsley, who hasn’t served up a homer in almost a month.
Billingsley pitched seven scoreless innings and singled home a run, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night and sending the Reds to their eighth straight loss at Chavez Ravine.
“Dunn’s been swinging the bat very well, so I really didn’t want him to give him too much to hit,” Billingsley said. “I really wanted to stay down and away with him and keep him off-balance by mixing it in and out. That’s how you approach some guys when they’re swinging well. You’ve got to move the ball around and not stay consistently in one area.”
Dunn remained tied with Ken Griffey Jr., Ted Kluszewski and Johnny Bench for the Reds’ franchise record. The 6-foot-6 left fielder struck out twice and walked in his three plate appearances against Billingsley, who hasn’t allowed a homer in 36 innings spanning his last six starts.
Dunn’s RBI streak also ended at eight games, three shy of the club record set by Joe Morgan in 1976.
“Billingsley made some great pitches, but I felt like I got some pitches to hit,” Dunn said. “I think the home run streak was definitely more important to other people, but a couple of those home runs actually helped win ballgames. And that’s really all I care about, to be honest.”
Billingsley (4-5) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out seven. The right-hander has given up seven earned runs in 32 innings during that stretch, taking a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning of his previous start last Thursday at Milwaukee.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre liked what he saw, something that’s been a common refrain lately.
“The key was the command of his pitches,” Torre said. “His pitch count was pretty good early. He was getting his breaking ball over and getting ahead in the count. He seems to have a pretty good rhythm going right now. With that comes confidence, and that’s what I saw from him tonight.”
Matt Belisle (1-4) pitched for the first time in 10 days, allowing three runs and seven hits over six-plus innings with three strikeouts and no walks. The right-hander was skipped one turn in the rotation after his scheduled start last Thursday against the Florida Marlins was postponed.
“I’ve seen him with a better sinker than he had tonight, but what he did was work the outer corner,” Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said.
Belisle limited the Dodgers to four hits over the first five innings, but all of them came during a two-run second that included Billingsley’s RBI single. Kent led off the inning with a single and scored the first run on a fielder’s choice grounder by Matt Kemp. Two more possible runs that inning were choked off on force plays at the plate.
The Dodgers added two more in the seventh, however. Chin-lung Hu chased Belisle with a leadoff single and scored on Juan Pierre’s RBI single off Bill Bray. Pierre scored from third as Russell Martin beat the relay from second baseman Brandon Phillips on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder to shortstop.
Griffey, still three home runs away from 600, was 1-for-3 with a walk, extending his homerless drought to 86 at-bats. His longest was 101 at-bats in 1990 with Seattle, his second season in the big leagues.
Kemp started in center for the second straight game in place of Andruw Jones, who has a slight cartilage tear in his right knee. Jones, will rest it for another two days, including Thursday’s off-day, before the Dodgers decide on Friday whether to let him play through the injury or put him on the disabled list.
The Reds, who have lost 13 of the previous 16 meetings with the Dodgers, haven’t won in Los Angeles since July 28, 2005, when Jason LaRue drove in five runs with a pair of homers in a 6-1 victory. … Griffey, who won 10 Gold Gloves as a center fielder and is now the Reds’ right fielder, robbed Kent of a hit in the third inning with a diving backhanded catch while going toward the foul line.