The All-Star right-hander didn’t need any more advice the rest of the day.
Billingsley extricated himself from that mess and pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, leading the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday in the rubber game of the three-game series.
“I wasn’t really in a panic mode,” Billingsley said. “I felt good out there and I thought I had good stuff. It was just a matter of making pitches when I needed to. Then I was able to settle down and get deep into the game. I wasn’t really expecting that, but it worked out that way. After I got through that first inning, I knew that was all they were going to get.”
Both of Washington’s hits came in the first on singles by Ryan Zimmerman(notes) and Michael Morse(notes), who drove in Washington’s run. Billingsley (9-8) allowed only one baserunner after that, issuing a leadoff walk to Jayson Werth(notes) in the fourth.
“Bills won that game for us today and really showed a low of heart in that first inning,” said Aaron Miles(notes), who drove in the Dodgers’ first two runs. “When you’re looking at bases loaded, nobody out, you’re thinking the worst. And for him to just shut the door like that and just cruise the rest of the way, that was huge.”
Billingsley, coming off a 5-0 loss at San Francisco in which he didn’t issue a walk for the first time this season, walked his first batter and hit his next one—Danny Espinosa(notes)—with a 1-2 pitch. Zimmerman’s hit to left field loaded the bases for Morse, who drove in Roger Bernadina(notes). But Billingsley ended his 38-pitch inning by striking out Werth on a fastball, Rick Ankiel(notes) on a curve ball and Jesus Flores(notes) on another deuce.
“When a guy like that who’s obviously talented and has good stuff can get out of something like that, it gives him confidence,” Zimmerman said. “When you have a pitcher on the ropes, you have to put a crooked number up there. By no means is it easy to get runs in, but we’ve got to do a better job if we want to win games and be a good team.”
Billingsley is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA against the Nationals at Dodger Stadium. His only loss to them was on April 25, 2010, when he pitched six innings of four-hit ball and dropped a 1-0 decision to Scott Olsen(notes) at Washington.
Kenley Jansen(notes) pitched a perfect eighth, and rookie Javy Guerra(notes) did likewise in the ninth for his seventh straight save. The Dodgers have won seven of their last 12, and Guerra has five saves over that time.
“It’s great to see him mature out there very quickly,” said Billingsley, whose 1-0 victory on July 8 at Dodger Stadium wasn’t secured until Guerra escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam of his own. “He stepped into a closer job as a rookie, and the last three outs of a game are always the toughest. But he’s been throwing some cheese up there and doing an unbelievable job.”
Jason Marquis(notes) (8-5) lost for the third time in four starts, giving up three runs, five hits and four walks in six innings. The right-hander, who did not allow an earned run over 26 1-3 innings in his first four career starts at Dodger Stadium, has a 5.48 ERA with three losses in four starts at Chavez Ravine since then.
The Dodgers came back in the bottom of the first with a two-out, two-run single to center by Miles, who came in 7 for 18 lifetime against Marquis. Matt Kemp(notes) never broke stride rounding third as coach Tim Wallach waved him in, and the relay throw to the plate from second baseman Espinosa had him beat. But it was low, and Flores couldn’t handle it cleanly.
“I was just reading him and going hard, and he kept waving his arms. So I just kept going and it turned out to be the right decision,” Kemp said. “I’m aggressive anyway, and we’ll do anything to score runs. It was a gamble that we took. The catcher dropped the ball and we got an extra run out of it.”
Miles’ aggressive baserunning was indirectly responsible for the Dodgers’ third run. James Loney(notes) came up in the third with the bases loaded and hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double-play grounder to second, but Miles’ hard slide forced shortstop Ian Desmond(notes) to make a low relay throw to first that pulled Morse off the bag and allowed Rafael Furcal(notes) to score. Marquis’ third walk of the inning loaded the bases again, but Jamey Carroll(notes) flied out.
Notes: Espinosa has been hit by 16 pitches, the most in the NL. Last season with the Nationals, he had 112 plate appearances without getting plunked. As a team, Washington batters have been hit by an NL-high 44 times. … Wallach was honored during a pre-game ceremony for his induction last February into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Wallach, who spent his first 13 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos and ended it with the Dodgers, was an All-American 1B at Cal State Fullerton and a member of the 1979 National Championship team. Six of his college teammates took part in Sunday’s ceremony. Wallach’s son Chad currently plays for the Titans. … Washington is 9-14 since Davey Johnson too over as manager after Jim Riggleman’s resignation on June 23. … The Nationals are 5-15 at Dodger Stadium since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005.