Los Angeles (67-62) at Arizona (63-66)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ, US
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 4:40 pm EDT Sun Aug 27, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Chad Billingsley is baseball’s surprising ERA leader since the All-Star break.

Billingsley will try to continue that success for the Dodgers on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Billingsley (4-3, 3.07 ERA) is 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. He’s 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA over his last five starts.

The 22-year-old right-hander did not receive a decision but pitched effectively Monday, when he allowed two runs and six hits over five innings of a 4-2 defeat at San Diego.

Billingsley is facing the Diamondbacks (63-66) for the second time this season. He gave up six hits over seven scoreless innings in a 4-1 victory on July 18.

The Dodgers (67-62) ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory on Saturday. Jeff Kent’s leadoff homer in the ninth inning snapped a tie and Takashi Saito recovered from a blown save the night before to record the final three outs for his 15th save.

“Going down the stretch, all these games are going to mean something,” Kent said. “You hate to waste opportunities, and I’m glad we didn’t waste one tonight.”

Starter Derek Lowe left Saturday’s game in the fourth inning after being struck in the left hand by a line drive off the bat of Chad Tracy. X-rays were negative, and the injury was diagnosed as a bruised hand near the joint with the thumb.

Los Angeles remained one game ahead of second-place San Diego in the NL West race. The Dodgers are 3-5 entering the final contest of their nine-game road trip.

Arizona, which has dropped five of its last six games, fell four games behind Los Angeles and is 3 1/2 games behind NL wild card leader Cincinnati.

Dodgers right fielder J.D. Drew, who homered twice in Friday’s 15-inning loss, went 1-for-4 Saturday. Drew is batting .400 (22-for-55) with 18 RBIs in 14 games against the Diamondbacks this year.

His brother, rookie Stephen Drew, singled as a pinch-hitter and scored the tying run in the eighth inning. Stephen Drew is 11-for-24 against the Dodgers this season.

Los Angeles won for only the second time in eight games at Chase Field, where they’ve been outscored 47-30.

Craig Counsell returned to the lineup and went 0-for-3 for Arizona in his first start since July 14. Counsell, who batted seventh, had been bothered by hamstring problems after a stint on the disabled list due to a fractured right rib.

“But if everything goes well physically for him, you’ll see him back in the leadoff role here pretty soon,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

Livan Hernandez (10-10, 5.19) will make his fourth start with Arizona since being acquired from Washington on Aug. 7. He’s 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts with his new team.

The right-hander pitched well in his last start when he allowed three runs— one earned—and eight hits in a 5-0 loss at San Francisco on Monday.

The Diamondbacks have scored only one run in Hernandez’s two losses with the club, and nine in his only victory.

Hernandez won his lone start against the Dodgers this year on May 26 with Washington when he allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings in a 10-4 victory.

Los Angeles first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who’s in a 4-for-23 slump, is hitless in eight career at-bats against Hernandez.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Billingsley PHI vs. L. Hernandez MIL
7-4 Record 13-13
3.80 ERA 4.83
59 K 128
58 BB 78
1.67 WHIP 1.50