After seven more scoreless innings in Atlanta today, we’ve now seen six Chad Beardinglsey starts since his return from the disabled list: 41.2 IP, 6 earned runs, 30 hits, 8 walks. Uh, yeah. That’ll work. It was the fifth time in those six starts that he gave up zero or one earned runs, and that knocks his FIP down to 3.21, which is not only good for second-best in his career (behind only 2010′s 3.07), it’s 14th in baseball this year – ahead of stars like CC Sabathia, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee, & Jered Weaver. You know what’s looking really, really good right now? The 3/$35m contract that ties him to the Dodgers through 2014.
Billingsley pushed a single through the right side in the fifth inning, but with Mike Minor dealing as well for Atlanta, he was going to need some help to come out of this one on top – especially considering that Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, & James Loney all went hitless today. The answer came, as it often seems to do these days, from Luis Cruz, who hit a no-doubter blast over the left field wall in the fifth inning – his second dinger in two days – for the only run Billingsley would need.
Unfortunately for Cruz, it could be said that he truly became a Dodger today – but not in a good way. Leading off the top of the ninth inning, he grounded out to shortstop, and clearly pulled up lame before reaching the base, suffering what appeared to be yet another Dodger hamstring injury. No word yet on the severity (or lack thereof), but he was replaced by Adam Kennedy at third for the bottom of the inning. If he’s unavailable for even a few days, a roster move is going to have to be made; as we discussed this morning, adding a 13th pitcher in Scott Elbert makes the bench dangerously thin.
While Cruz’ homer provided all the margin the Dodgers would need, they did score one in the eighth and three in the ninth, in no small part to right fielder Jason Heyward‘s adventures in right field. Heyward lost balls in the sun in each inning, with Mark Ellis‘ eighth-inning ball dropping for an RBI, and A.J. Ellis‘ ninth-inning fly going for a double. The latter play helped to load the bases for Mark Ellis, who put the game away with a bases-clearing double.
With the win, the Dodgers end a successful road trip at 7-3 and head home for three against the Giants, who are down 3-0 to San Diego in the first at the moment. But who will be playing third base? I can’t even believe I’m saying it, but if Cruz is out it’s a huge blow, because with Jerry Hairston still injured that means the Dodgers would have no choice but to play Kennedy or Juan Uribe there everyday.