I ranted the other day about how bad Derek Lowe and Brad Penny have been this year. I also said that as of now, Chad Billingsley is clearly their best starter. Last night, he made the statement true.
Billingsley went 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K to get his 4th win in his last 5 starts, and has lowered his ERA from 6.53 on April 24 to 3.76 now. After starting the season very rocky and giving Dodger fans quite the reason to worry, he has more than settled in into the possible future ace he always looked like. To say that his performance gave a big sigh of relief from the Dodgers' management would be an understatement.
This game really didn't have a whole lot of action, as the Dodgers scored 2 each in the 2nd and 7th. The 2nd started off with back-to-back singles by Jeff Kent and James Loney. Matt Kemp then scored Kent on a fielder's choice, and Kemp went to 2nd on David Ross' error. After Blake DeWitt hit an infield single to load the bases, Chin-lung Hu had a perfect opportunity to break out of his slump, but instead grounded into a force play at home. Billingsley helped his own cause by singling to score another. Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier, however, were unable to score anymore.
Hu was finally able to get something going by singling to lead off the 7th, and came around on Pierre's RBI-single. Pierre then stole 2nd and went to 3rd on Ethier's single. Russell Martin picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice to score Pierre to go up 4-0.
Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect 8th, and has appeared to settle down since getting bombed for 6 runs in 0.1 IP against the Astros on May 11. Joe Beimel gave up a run, but Takashi Saito picked up an easy save by K'ing the only hitter he faced.
The win was good, as they are now 3 games over .500 and 4 games back of Arizona. One area of concern, though, is Hu. He clearly has not worked out nearly as well as people would have hoped. He's been handed a golden opportunity to play everyday with Rafael Furcal out, but has failed to impress. Currently, he's played in 34 games and has 67 AB's, but is only hitting .179 with no homers and 5 RBI. He doesn't strike out much, but only has 1 multi-hit game (April 23 against Arizona). With Furcal due back soon, Hu's playing time is about to tank. I can't say that's really a bad thing.
The Dodgers will look for the sweep tonight as Hiroki Kuroda, currently the 2nd best pitcher on the staff, takes the mound. After an off day tomorrow, they start a 3-game homestand against St. Louis.