Perhaps it’s the beard. Or perhaps it was being demoted from number two in the rotation. Whatever it was, something has sparked Chad Billingsley, who has pitched phenomenal for Dodgers since the all-star break. Billingsley picked up his sixth straight victory by pitching seven scoreless innings and improving his record to 10-9 on the year. He became the first Dodger pitcher to record six straight victories since Kevin Brown won seven straight back in 2003. Mike Minor (6-10) suffered the loss for the Braves who dropped the final two games of the series after winning the opener on Friday.
Luis Cruz continued with his torrid bat, belting a solo home run in the fifth inning. The Dodgers tacked on another run in the eighth on a bloop single by Mark Ellis to right field. Braves third-year sensation Jason Heyward lost the ball in the sun, which allowed Juan Uribe to trot in home from third base. The single followed a perfectly executed hit and run single by Shane Victorino that allowed Uribe to reach third. The sun also played a big role in the ninth inning for the Dodgers, allowing them to break the game open. After getting Cruz to ground out, catcher A.J. Ellis hit what looked to be a routine fly ball to Heyward in right. Heyward, however, lost the ball in the sun again. When he found it, he almost made a remarkable recovery, but just missed catching the ball, allowing Ellis to coast into second base. Adam Kennedy followed by hitting a routine pop up to shallow left-center. A trio of Braves converged and shortstop Paul Janish almost made an amazing catch, but couldn’t make the play. After Victorino drew a walk to load the bases, Mark Ellis finally came through with a bases-clearing double down the left field line. Lefty Scott Elbert, fresh off the disabled list, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve the shutout for the boys in blue.
It was a crucial 10-game road trip for the Dodgers. They left town trailing the San Francisco Giants by 1/2 game and a bad trip could have been devastating to their playoff chances. However, the Dodgers thrived on the trip, winning seven of the 10, and have maintained their pace behind the Giants. They did so with team MVP Matt Kemp virtually non-existent since his ejection against the Pirates on Thursday. Kemp failed to collect a hit in the three games against the Braves, yet the Dodgers still managed to take two of three, a very promising sign.
The Dodgers now head back home knowing they will be no worse than 1/2 games back as they gear up for a crucial three game series against those same Giants at Dodger Stadium. Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner in game one. Game two features Joe Blanton, who is still seeking his first win as a Dodger, against Tim Lincecum. The final game on Wednesday features Aaron Harang against Giants ace Matt Cain.
About the Author
Written by Simran Reyatt
Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles I became passionate about sports around 1988, watching the showtime Lakers and the miracle Dodgers. I have been hooked ever since! Lakers, Raider and Dodgers are my main passions, but really, I'm a huge sports lover as a whole.