Loney, Billingsley help Dodgers beat Rockies 7-2

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DENVER (AP)—Contenders usually spend September with one eye on the out-of-town scoreboard. If the Los Angeles Dodgers keep playing this way, they can forget about other teams.

James Loney drove in three runs, Chad Billingsley pitched six solid innings and the surging Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-2 on Friday night.

Billingsley (15-10) gave up two runs and six hits for the Dodgers, who have won three straight and 11 of 12. Los Angeles remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Arizona, which beat Cincinnati.

“If we keep winning, we’ll be all right,” Billingsley said. “We’re where we want to be, we want to keep playing well, and that’s the only thing we can control.”

Matt Holliday homered for the defending NL champion Rockies, who have lost six straight and are 9 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the NL West with 14 games remaining.

Last year, the Rockies surged in the final two weeks to win the Wild Card. Now they’re watching the Dodgers rally toward a playoff spot.

“Things are going the way of the Dodgers right now,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “They are loaded in their bullpen and their pitching staff as a whole leads the league in ERA. They have a solid lineup overall.”

Two weeks ago the Dodgers had lost eight straight and were 4 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks. They went to Arizona and took two of three games from the Diamondbacks, beating their top two pitchers. Since then Arizona is 4-9 and lost eight games in the standings to Los Angeles.

“The key for us was losing seven games in a row going into Arizona, losing that Friday night and being able to beat (Dan) Haren and (Brandon) Webb,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Now the Dodgers don’t worry about the scoreboard as much.

“As a manager I watch it from April,” Torre said. “At this point and time, that we’re in front of them, we don’t have to worry about any scoreboard. As long as we win, nobody can gain on us.”

Loney, Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Angel Berroa had two hits each for the Dodgers.

“We’ve jelled,” Kemp said. “We’re getting the job done on the pitching side and hitting side. Everything’s just clicking for us right now.”

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was activated from the 60-day DL before the game and pinch-hit for starter Jeff Francis in the sixth, striking out in his first at-bat since July 2.

“I struck out,” Helton said. “I couldn’t have looked that good.”

Francis (4-10) allowed three runs and six hits with five strikeouts. Francis is 1-2 in six starts since coming of the DL on Aug. 7.

“I pitched well,” Francis said. “He pitched better than I did.”

The Dodgers took the lead for good when Nomar Garciaparra led off the fourth with a double and scored on Kemp’s single to make it 3-2.

Manny Ramirez stretched the lead to 4-2 with an RBI single off the right-field wall in the seventh, and Loney’s three-run double in the eighth made it 7-2.

“James Loney made it a lot better, for sure,” Torre said.

The Rockies scored first on Holliday’s 25th homer in the first and tied the game at 2-all in the bottom of the second on Clint Barmes’ single that knocked in Troy Tulowitzki.


Torre said 2B Jeff Kent (left knee) is hitting off a tee and will take batting practice next week. … The Rockies honored Eric Young before the game. Young, who retired as a member of the Rockies, hit the first home run in the franchise’s inaugural home game at Mile High Stadium on April 9, 1993. … Holliday’s home run was his first since Aug. 19, a span of 79 at-bats. … Loney has 14 RBIs at Coors Field this year, more than any other park other than Dodger Stadium.

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