LOS ANGELES (AP)—The free-swinging Diamondbacks helped Chad Billingsley(notes) increase his strikeout total to 171 this season. Fifty-three of them came against Arizona, including 22 in his final two starts.
Billingsley took a shutout into the eighth inning, Matt Kemp(notes) homered in his fourth straight game and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Arizona 3-2 Saturday night with Joe Torre letting utilityman Jamey Carroll(notes) manage the team.
Billingsley (12-11) was charged with two runs and four hits over 7 1-3 innings and struck out nine. The 26-year-old right-hander finished his season with a 3.57 ERA in 31 starts, including a 5-4 loss at Arizona last Sunday in which he tied a career best with 13 strikeouts.
“It was one of my better years, and I know they’re happy with it,” said Billingsley, who gave up only eight home runs and 69 walks in 191 2-3 innings. “I made some strides this year and cut down the walks. I just went back to simplifying my game plan. There was a lot of negative talk last year, but I wasn’t too worried about it going into the season.”
Rookie reliever Kenley Jansen(notes) struck out three in the ninth for his fourth save. Diamondbacks hitters, who already set a major league record with 1,517 strikeouts, finished a game in double digits for the 72nd time this season. Their record in those games is 17-55, including a 1-8 mark against Los Angeles.
“You can take advantage of their aggressiveness,” Billingsley said. “Those guys are dangerous hitters and they can hit the ball out of the ballpark and in the gaps. So you can’t make mistakes over the plate. The key to everything is getting ahead of the hitters, throwing first-pitch strikes and then making your pitches.”
Billingsley retired his first 13 batters before walking Adam LaRoche(notes). Gerardo Parra(notes), who came in 3 for 18 against Billingsley and struck out his first two times up, singled cleanly through the left side leading off the sixth to break up the no-hit bid.
Stephen Drew’s(notes) two-out RBI single in the eighth chased Billingsley, and Tony Abreu(notes) greeted Ramon Troncoso(notes) with a sacrifice fly that trimmed the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2. Troncoso struck out Kelly Johnson(notes) to strand a runner at second.
Joe Saunders(notes) (3-7) gave up three runs—two earned—and 10 hits over seven innings. He struck out five without walking a batter. The left-hander finished the year 9-17 overall with a 4.47 ERA in 33 combined starts with the Diamondbacks and Angels, after going 33-14 over the previous two seasons.
Saunders, acquired in a trade for Dan Haren(notes) on July 25, is 0-8 with a 6.06 ERA in nine road starts since his complete-game 7-1 victory for the Angels against Oakland on June 9. He reached 200 innings for the first time.
“For me, it’s kind of been a real up-and-down year, but I think I’ve pitched better than what my record shows,” Saunders said. “It humbles you. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s what I’m going to take out of it. I’m going to work my tail off in the offseason and hopefully turn it around.”
The Dodgers had eight hits before the Diamondbacks got their first one, but they weren’t able to score until the fifth after Andre Ethier(notes) singled with two outs for one of his four hits. Kemp got the green light from Carroll on a 3-0 pitch and drove it into the left-field pavilion for his 27th homer, eclipsing his career-high total from last season.
“I wasn’t surprised at all, because we’ve been doing that all year with two outs—even with one out,” third base coach Larry Bowa said. “Carroll knows the game. He had his big boy up there, so he said: `Let him go.’ And that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Los Angeles added an unearned run in the sixth on Reed Johnson’s(notes) sacrifice fly after a three-base error by center fielder Chris Young, who attempted to make a one-handed grab of Rod Barajas’(notes) towering fly to the warning track in right-center.
For the second night in a row, the 70-year-old Torre let one of his veteran players manage the Dodgers and pick his own coaching staff. Torre is stepping down as manager after the season and plans to retire.
Los Angeles catcher Brad Ausmus(notes), who will call it a career after he starts behind the plate Sunday, was Carroll’s bench coach after calling the shots during Friday night’s 7-5 loss. Demoted closer Jonathan Broxton(notes) served as bullpen coach and bullpen catcher Mike Borzello was the pitching coach.
John Lindsey(notes), a 33-year-old rookie first baseman who spent 16 seasons in the minor leagues and had just 12 big league at-bats before his hand was broken by a pitch from Diamondbacks 23-year-old rookie Daniel Hudson(notes) on Sept. 25, was selected by Carroll to be his hitting coach.
“I just felt like it would be fun to have him involved in something so that he can feel like he’s a part of it,” Carroll said.
NOTES: Torre said he will keep the lineup card and the uniform shirt he will wear on Sunday. “A win tomorrow would be nice, because I won my first game as a manager. So it would be nice to put those bookends out there,” he said.