Tonight at Dodger Stadium, Chad Billingsley needed 85 pitches to get through four innings, allowing 11 baserunners – but only two runs, and that was the preeminent silver lining.
A huge play came in the third inning, with the Dodgers down 2-0, when Matt Kemp threw out Nate Schierholtz rounding second base, seconds before Brandon Belt would have crossed home plate with the Giants’ third run. That was as close as San Francisco came to scoring again in what became a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers.
With Tim Linceum pitching, you might expect San Francisco wouldn’t need more than two runs, but 2012 has not been Lincecum’s year. Tony Gwynn Jr. capped a four-run fourth inning with a bases-loaded triple off an 0-2 Lincecum changeup – according to Bob Timmermann, Gwynn became the first to hit a bases-loaded pinch-triple in the fourth inning since Jeff Burroughs in June 1978. Dodger manager Don Mattingly had rightly pinch-hit for Billingsley, who didn’t offer much reason to remain in the game in that situation.
Two innings later, A.J. Ellis tripled with one out, and Scott Van Slyke – in his first major-league at-bat – singled up the middle to get him home. According to the Dodgers’ public relations staff, Van Slyke became the first Dodger with a pinch-hit RBI hit in his first at-bat since Carl Warwick in April 1961.
Billingsley, by the way, singled in his only at-bat, meaning that the bottom spot in the order went 3 for 3 – with Chris Capuano hitting a pinch-sacrifice in the bottom of the eighth. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Capuano was the first Dodger pitcher to pinch-sacrifice since Orel Hershiser in September 1988.
Jamey Wright, Ronald Belisario, Josh Lindblom and Kenley Jansen combined for five innings of shutout relief.
Ellis, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu and Juan Uribe each had two hits for the Dodgers. Abreu is OPSing .971 as a Dodger so far, while Ellis now leads National League catchers in OPS at .927.
Matt Kemp, on the other hand, went 0 for 5 for the first time since September 2009.