Billingsley pitches Dodgers to 3-2 win over Nats
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Chad Billingsley doesn’t think of himself as a strikeout pitcher, although the numbers suggest otherwise.
Billingsley (10-9) is one of only 11 NL pitchers with at least 100 strikeouts who have more Ks than hits allowed this season. Opposing teams have 113 hits and 137 strikeouts against him in 129 2-3 innings. Lifetime, the 23-year-old right-hander has allowed 336 hits and fanned 337 over 366 2-3 innings.
“Honestly, I try not to really think about punching guys out,” said Billingsley, who had a career-high 13 two starts ago against Florida. “I mean, I’ll try to get the strikeout if I’m ahead in the count, the opportunity is there and the situation calls for it. But I just trust my stuff and try to make quality pitches.”
Billingsley had only four strikeouts against the Nationals, but one of them resulted in his biggest out of the game.
After committing a fielding error on opposing pitcher John Lannan’s tapper to the mound with two outs in the fifth and walking Willie Harris, Billingsley escaped the bases-loaded jam by getting Cristian Guzman to chase a third strike in the dirt.
“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. “When our pitcher keeps us in the ballgame like that, it gives us the confidence that we can still work on their guy.”
Billingsley allowed two runs and five hits over 7 2-3 innings. The only runs against him came on Harris’ sacrifice fly in the third and Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI single in the eighth. Zimmerman, 6-for-16 in four games since coming off the disabled list, trimmed the Dodgers lead to 3-2 with a two-out single to center after Billingsley issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans.
“I don’t really think he was tiring. I think he just gets to the point where he sort of smells the finish line—and sometimes gets himself in a hurry to get there,” manager Joe Torre said. “The walk leading off the inning was a product of him just speeding up a little bit. From spring training on, I’ve noticed that about him. But he had great stuff and great command.”
Austin Kearns followed with a single that chased Billingsley, but Jonathan Broxton struck out Jesus Flores and followed with a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save, all of them coming after Takashi Saito went on the disabled list with elbow problems.
Lannan (7-9) allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings. The lanky left-hander, facing the Dodgers for the first time in his career, took a three-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead into the sixth before Los Angeles loaded the bases with none out.
Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp started the rally with singles and Lannan hit Russell Martin on the left elbow with a 1-2 pitch. Lannan got a visit from pitching coach Randy St. Claire after falling behind Kent 0-2, and the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter lined out to shortstop. But Garciaparra lined a single to left on a 1-0 fastball for a 2-1 lead, and Martin scored on James Loney’s groundout.
“That pitch to Garciaparra was outside. I think he had it in his mind to pull it,” Lannan said. “He’s just a great hitter. He made an adjustment and he hooked it.”
Lannan was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. It was the 10th time in 20 starts this season that his teammates scored fewer than two runs while he was in the game. He is 2-6 over his last 11 outings despite a 3.27 ERA during that stretch.
“You really can’t let that affect you,” Lannan said of the run support. “You just have to keep on going out there and throwing up zeros. I was frustrated that I gave up three runs and kind of got away from what I wanted to do.”
Kent was impressed by Lannan’s stuff.
“He was spotting his breaking ball away, trying to catch that outside corner, and he was keeping the ball down,” Kent said. “We were just trying to have good at-bats. It took us the third time around to finally get to him.”
Pierre was 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup, following his first career stint on the disabled list. The Dodgers were 11-9 while he was sidelined with a sprained left knee. … Kent, who had 13 career grand slams, is 0-for-7 in bases-loaded situations this season. … Kemp, who batted leadoff in 18 of the games that Pierre missed, hit .316 in that role with six doubles, three homers, 11 RBIs, 10 walks and a .393 on-base percentage. … Dodgers OF Delwyn Young was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Thursday, because of a strained right oblique muscle. … Washington CF Lastings Milledge was 0-for-4 in his first game back, after missing 20 games with a groin injury. The Nats were 6-14 during his absence.