Chad Billingsley, on the mound, struggled through a hot day in Cincinnati, needing 106 pitches to get through five innings. The Reds got to him almost immediately when Drew Stubbs homered on the second pitch of the game, and he allowed four more baserunners and two runs in the second. Billingsley was unable to get through any of his five innings without allowing a man to reach, and only once did he have an inning where at least two didn’t reach. (It should be noted that he essentially made it through the 4th inning cleanly, but an atrocious safe call at first on Stubbs’ bunt helped put the fourth run on the board.)
Usually, that’s a recipe for disaster, because I hardly need to remind you of all the times that Billingsley or other Dodger starters have gone deep into games, allowing zero or one runs, yet have nothing better to show for it than a loss or a no-decision. But not today, because the Dodger offense exploded, led by none other than… Chad Billingsley. Billingsley homered, doubled, and walked, driving in three. He’s now got four RBI on the season, which is one less than Jamey Carroll; I bring this up to illustrate how loony it is that anyone still bothers using RBI as any sort of indicator, when a pitcher can have almost as many as an infielder with over 200 plate appearances who we all regard as valuable. He could have had more; the Dodgers loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth when James Loney, hitting 8th, drew his third walk of the day. It seemed clear at the time that Billingsley was done on the mound, but rather than allow him to hit, Don Mattingly chose to send up Ivan DeJesus, who grounded out to end the threat. Personally, I would have probably let Billingsley hit, even if you knew he wasn’t going to stay in to pitch, and saved DeJesus in case you needed him later.
John Ely followed with three-plus innings, allowing two runs while generally living on the edge, but was pulled in the ninth after he walked the leadoff man. Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish it off himself, because despite the score he would have recorded a save thanks to the length of his outing. Ely would have been the seventh Dodger to record a save this year; the team (and NL) record is 11, set in 1941 and tied in 1946 & 1979. Josh Lindblom then walked & hit the first two batters he saw, loading the bases with no outs and allowing both the Reds to bring the tying run to the plate and me to reach for a defibrillator. With Dodger fans nationwide panicking after seeing how the Dodgers had come back in this very park the day before, he got Paul Janish to pop out and Chris Heisey to hit a sacrifice fly, scoring one. Drew Stubbs came to the plate with two hits under his belt, but Lindblom held the door with his first major league strikeout.
Expect as many as three roster moves before tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, with Blake Hawksworth, Juan Uribe, and Marcus Thames all ready to return. My money is on Ely, DeJesus, and Jerry Sands heading out.