Chad Billingsley gave the critics a rest in his first start of 2012, striking 11 in a dominant 8 1/3 innings while allowing only three hits and one walk in a 6-0 Dodger victory.
Billingsley was only in trouble in the second inning, when he gave up a leadoff double and a one-out walk. But Orlando Hudson grounded into a double play, the Dodgers boosted their lead to 4-0 in the third and Billingsley never looked back.
He struck out his first three batters, retired the side in order in six different innings and set down 16 batters in a row between Will Venable’s leadoff double in the fourth inning and Cameron Maybin’s one-out single in the ninth. That came on Billingsley’s 108th pitch, more than enough with the Dodgers up by half a dozen runs. Jamey Wright relieved Billingsley and used two ground balls to end the game.
Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Juan Rivera and Andre Ethier each had two hits, going 8 for 16 with a walk. Ellis had a double, while Ethier had a double and triple that each drove in two runs. Jerry Hairston Jr. also went 1 for 3 with a walk, starting in left field while Rivera played first base and James Loney sat against 27-year-old Padres lefty Cory Luebke, who allowed five earned runs and 10 baserunners (striking out six) in 4 2/3 innings of his first start since signing a four-year, $12 million contract extension in March.
Dee Gordon got his first hit of the season but was called out – incorrectly, according to replays – trying to steal. He is 1 for 10 so far in 2012. Juan Uribe went 0 for 4, while A.J. Ellis was 0 for 3 with a walk.
This was the fifth time Billingsley has struck out 11 in a game. He also has one game of 12 and two career-high games of 13. It was also the second time in less than a year he has thrown at least eight shutout innings against San Diego, including nine months ago in a 1-0 victory over the Padres. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes that Billingsley achieved a career-high Game Score of 87.
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Bill Shaikin of the Times notes the salient details available from the Dodger sale agreement filed in court today. The official price was $1.588 billion, with $412 million going to retire the Dodgers’ debt.
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Haven’t really been publicizing these, but the fourth episode of Young Justice that I was the writer for is scheduled to air Saturday morning.