Dodgers' Billingsley dominates Astros, now 4-0
Chad Billingsley didn't have much to say about his dominating performance against the Houston Astros on Thursday night.
That's OK. Everyone else couldn't stop raving about it.
Billingsley pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake each drove in a run, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-0 win over the Astros.
"How about that game the kid pitched?" Dodgers manager Joe Torre asked. "It was something."
Billingsley (4-0) has won his first four starts of the season, the first Dodgers pitcher to do so since Kazuhisa Ishii won his first six in 2002.
Houston's Geoff Blum had seen Billingsley a few times before, but never like this.
"It was electric," he said. "It was crazy. I had actually gotten some good hitting counts and he was still throwing 90 mph, what looked like a slider. His depth is impressive. He had us off balance."
He was helped by double plays that ended the second, fifth and sixth innings. Billingsley halted Houston's recent torrid hitting streak where the team had 11 hits in each of the previous three games. The win broke a two-game skid for the Dodgers.
"I just wanted to go deep in this game and try to get a win after losing those first two," Billingsley said. "We had to get back on track."
Ramirez had an RBI single in the first inning and Blake added the game's other run on a double in the seventh.
Billingsley retired Ivan Rodriguez to start the eighth inning before he was chased on a single by Michael Bourn. That hit bounced off the glove of Blake.
In 7 1-3 innings, Billingsley struck out five and walked two in his 100th major league appearance. He was replaced by Jonathan Broxton, who retired the next two batters before running into some trouble in the ninth.
Miguel Tejada singled in the ninth before Broxton struck out Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. Tejada moved to second on defensive indifference before Broxton hit Blum with a pitch.
Tejada advanced to third on a wild pitch before Darin Erstad grounded out to end the game and give Broxton the save.
Torre said Billingsley could have stayed in, but he needed to get Broxton in because he hadn't pitched since Friday.
Blake drove in Matt Kemp and made it 2-0 with his double that landed in the corner of right field in the seventh inning.
Ramirez put Los Angeles ahead early with a run-scoring single in the first inning. Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez (1-2) settled down after that hit and retired the next six batters.
With one out in the fifth, Orlando Hudson doubled on a flyball that landed just inside the fence near the bullpen in right field. But Bourn zipped it to Kaz Matsui who got it to Blum in time to tag a sliding Hudson just before he reached third base. Rodriguez struck out Ramirez to end the inning and retired the next three batters before he was replaced by Geoff Geary for the seventh with a high pitch count.
Rodriguez allowed five hits and one run while striking out four in six innings.
Astros manager Cecil Cooper was impressed with how Rodriguez got back on track after a rocky start on Thursday.
"I'd say he's growing up, I think," Cooper said. "I think he's becoming a pitcher because I don't think he had his good stuff tonight ... he couldn't really, really locate early with his fastball, but he stayed in the game. That to me shows he's making giant strides with what we want him to do."
Geary gave up two hits and one run in two innings before he was replaced by Wesley Wright. Wright allowed one hit in the ninth.
RHP Cory Wade, who is on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his right shoulder, threw 20 pitches on Thursday. Torre said he was a "little rusty" but felt good. "We'll try to extend it Sunday and make more decisions from there." ... Astros closer Jose Valverde, who injured his leg Tuesday, should be available by the weekend. Valverde said he felt much better on Thursday and is eager to play again.