Powerful Middle Infield Duo of Luis Cruz & Mark Ellis Back Chad Billingsley

Luis Cruz, leading the way with a three run homer. Just the way we drew it up, right? “Luis Cruz being awesome” has become something of a running joke on this site for reasons you’re probably all aware of, and while I’m not going to go too overboard about a guy who still only has a .297 OBP, the fact is that more than half of his hits have been for extra bases, and he’s been solid in the field.

Of course, the best part of Cruz’ dinger may not even have been the runs it put on the board, but the fact that it came back on the field and bopped Matt Holliday on the head, as you can see at right. (GIF from EephusBlue’s “Paint the Corners” blog, which I have borrowed for here because it’s just so fantastic. I have watched this approximately 1,000,000 times.)

Cruz’ blast, along with Mark Ellis‘ two-run double in the seventh, staked Chad Billingsley to a win in his first start since returning from the disabled list. On a brutally hot 104 degree night in a ballpark he hasn’t always had success in, Billingsley shook off concerns over his elbow to make it through six innings allowing just one run, though I’ll admit it was far from a work of art. With the trading deadline just a week away and rumors about the Dodgers acquiring another starter swirling, it was vital that Billingsley show he can be counted upon going forward, and he did a good job in a tough situation.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Ronald Belisario, who came in for Jamey Wright in the eighth inning and allowed a Carlos Beltran homer. Earlier this summer, I dared to suggest that while Belisario’s comeback was remarkable, it was hard to look at his low BABIP and his mediocre K/BB and think that this was going to keep up. Belisario has now allowed nine hits and eight runs over his last seven innings, and whether he just needs a rest or it’s something else, his performance is clearly becoming a problem. Kenley Jansen blew away the Cardinals to close it out in the ninth, and looked great doing it.

On the other hand, Belisario’s poor outing did allow for some A+ idiocy from Steve Lyons, who trotted out his old chestnut that Beltran’s home run was actually a good thing because it killed the rally, or some such foolishness. He then went on to mumble that he’d actually rather have seven doubles in a row than homers, because “it would keep the pressure on the pitcher,” before attempting to make sound effects with his mouth.

This man is employed by a major league team. Is this our punishment for having been so lucky with Vin for so long?