Billingsley Leads Shutout As Dodgers Keep Winning

Late rally one night, great pitching the next. The Dodgers keep on winning and keep on finding different ways to do it.

Chad Billingsley scattered four hits over six innings and Casey Blake hit a sacrifice fly, leading the defending NL West champions to a 1-0 victory over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

Jon Garland, Billy Buckner and Dan Haren combined to limit the Dodgers to just two runs and 10 hits over 19 innings and struck out 18 as the starting pitchers in the concluded three game sereis. Buckner pitched six scoreless innings Friday night in a 3-2 win, then Haren pitched two-hit ball over seven innings Saturday before the bullpen blew a 5-1 lead in a 6-5 loss.

"It's so important to win games that are pitched well by the other team," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "When you go to the postseason, which is obviously our goal, you are going to face the best. So you are going to have to learn how to manufacture runs, take the little things and not give anything away. It's just about the personality of this club. We play a lot of one-run, two-run games. It's not good for my stomach, but it's good practice."

Billingsley (7-3) struck out nine and walked four, rebounding strongly after back-to-back losses against the Angels and Cubs. The right-hander has allowed no more than two earned runs in eight of his 12 starts this season.

"I just try to get deep into the game, try to throw up zeros and give the team a chance to win. That's how I approach every single start," Billingsley said. "And when I see the other guy going out there and putting up zeros, too, I know I have to do the same."

Ramon Troncoso escaped a jam in the eighth when shortstop Rafael Furcal fielded Miguel Montero's sharp grounder with runners at the corners and stepped on second base before completing an inning-ending double play.

Jonathan Broxton pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 15 games, completing the combined seven-hitter and securing the Dodgers' second 1-0 win this season.

"It's good to know you've got that big guy coming in," Torre said. "He's been — I hate to put that moniker 'automatic' on someone, because this game will humble you. But he's come in with great stuff every time."

Both starting pitchers escaped bases-loaded jams in the fifth -- Billingsley on a groundout by rookie Josh Whitesell, Garland on a dribbler up the first base line by Furcal with catcher Montero making the play.

Garland and Billingsley matched zeros until the sixth, when James Loney hit his first triple of the season past a diving Garardo Parra near the left-field line and Blake followed with his scoring flyball.

Los Angeles improved the best record in the majors to 37-18 and extended its NL West lead to a season-high 9 1/2 games over the San Francisco Giants, whose game at Washington was postponed by rain. The Dodgers' were 6 1/2 games in front when Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball on May 7 for violating its drug abuse program, and are 16-10 since then.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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