The Dodgers beat the Braves today 5-0, and win the three game series in Atlanta. The Boys in Blue rode the red hot arm of Chad Billingsley to victory. Bills used the power of his beard to help him win his sixth straight game. Bills has been pitching fantastic, and since growing his beard, has not lost a game. In this time stretch he has pitched over 50 innings allowing just 8 walks, 30 hits, and six earned runs. Bills has pitched 15 scoreless innings on this road-trip alone. Anyone can see that Bills is pounding the strike zone. He’s challenging the hitters, and not walking guys. Good things will happen when you don’t walk anyone, and throw strikes. Bills pitched seven scoreless frames, allowing just three hits, walking two, and whiffing four Braves batters to win his tenth game of the season. Ronald Belisario, pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Scott Elbert pitched the ninth.
Of course it wasn’t only Bill’s wonderful pitching that helped the Dodgers to a win today. It was a true team effort. Luis Cruz bombed his fourth home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning, to break a scoreless tie and put the Dodgers on the board. The Dodgers picked up another run in the top of the eighth, when pinch-hitter Uribe walked, Victorino got a hit and run base hit through the hole at shortstop, and M.Ellis hits a pop fly single that Heyward loses in the sun to allow the second run to score. The Dodgers would score three runs in the top of the ninth to break the game open. The Dodgers get gifted another pop fly hit, this time a double to AJ. Kennedy and Victorino draws a walk, and M.Ellis drives everyone home with a bases clearing double. Unfortunately Luis Cruz hurt his leg running out a grounder in the top of the eighth inning, and had to be removed the next inning. Adam Kennedy filled in for Cochito the rest of the game. As soon as we know more about Cruz’s injury we will let you know. (According to various sources on twitter, it’s just a leg cramp and Cruz should be fine)
Before that happened though it was a tough pitcher’s duel between Bills, and Braves lefty Mike Minor, who pitched well, and picks up the tough loss. Minor pitched seven frames, allowing just one run on five hits, no walks, and whiffed two. The Dodgers improve to 67-55, and are now tied with the Giants for first place. As we await the result of the Giants/Padres game in San Diego, let’s take a look at the highlights.
Nothing was doing much for the Dodgers to start the game in the top of the first. Lefty Mike Minor gets Shane Victorino to ground out to third. Mark Ellis flies out to center. Matt Kemp flies out to right. No score. In the bottom of the first. Chad Billingsley starts off shaky by walking Michael Bourn. Bills whiffs Martin Prado on a check swing. Jason Heyward ends the inning by grounding into a double play.
Top of the second. Minor gets the red hot Hanley Ramirez to fly out to shallow center. Bourn races in to make a nice running catch. Andre Ethier whiffs like a statue for the second out. Juan Rivera hits into a broken bat ground out end the frame. Bottom of the second. Bills takes the mound for his second inning of work. Hanley bare-hand throws out Freddie Freeman for the first out. Dan Uggla grounds out to Hanley as well. Juan Francisco fouls out to Cruz to end the inning. Still no score.
The also red hot Luis Cruz starts the top of the third with a single to left. A.J. Ellis singles up the middle to send Cruz to second. Bills lays down what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt that falls right in front of the plate. Brave’s catcher Brian McCann who is playing on an injured shoulder tried to get the lead runners at third, but Cruz slides into third and beats his throw, which loads the bases. Victorino pops out to right, but it’s too shallow to score Cruz, and because Heyward has a strong arm. Mark Ellis follows and works the count full, but of course in typical 2012 Dodger style grounds right into an inning ending double play. The game remains scoreless. In the bottom of the third, Bills keeps on keeping on. He whiffs McCann. Paul Janish lines out to Cruz. Bills whiffs Minor to quickly retire the Braves in the third frame.
Top of the fourth. Mike Minor responds with another 123 inning of his own. He gets Kemp to pop out to right field. Hanley grounds out. Ethier whiffs. We’re still scoreless. Bills starts the bottom of the fourth by getting Bourn to fly out to deep left field. He sends Ethier back to the warning track to make the catch. Prado grounds out. Heyward fouls off a hundred pitches than triples into the gap. The he walks Freeman. Somehow, Bills battles, and gets Uggla to pop out, to prevent the Braves from scoring. Phew!
Minor gets Rivera to fly out to right to start the top of the fifth. Then Cruz, goes yard again, a line drive bomb to left field. That’s Cruz’s second homer in as many days, and his fourth on the season. It breaks the scoreless tie and gives the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. AJ and Bills follow with consecutive singles. But Victorino pops out, and M.Ellis flies out to center. The Dodgers get on the board though, thanks to some Cruz power! Bills now staked to a one run lead, roars back with another easy 123 inning. Francisco flies out to center. McCann flies out to left. Janish flies out to center. Dodgers still lead 1-0.
Minor continued to pitch well into the top of the sixth. He gets Kemp to ground out, Hanley flies out deep, sending Heyward back into the right field corner. Ethier grounds out. Bills is back on the bump for the bottom of the sixth. Minor leads off and bounces out to third. Bourn singles up the middle through Bill’s legs. Then he steals second. Prado grounds out to advance Bourn to third with two outs. Bills recovers and blows away Heyward to get the Dodgers out of the inning, and preserve their slim one run lead. Top of the seventh. Minor gets Rivera to loop out to Uggla at second. Uggla makes a nice running lunging catch. Cruz flies out to right. AJ lines out to third. Still 1-0 Blue.
Bills begins the bottom of the seventh well. Freeman and Uggla both fly out. But Francisco singles to right. With McCann at the plate, the Dodgers employ the shift on the Braves big catcher. It worked. Bills gets him to ground out to M.Ellis, and the Dodgers are through seven with a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Dodgers hook Bills, and use Juan Uribe to pinch-hit for him. Bills pitches seven scoreless frames allowing only three hits, walking two and whiffing four. Bills leaves with a 1-0 lead. The Braves counter by bringing in righty Chad Durbin. He walks Uribe. Then on a hit and run, Victorino perfectly places a single through the hole at short. The Dodgers now have runners on first and third with none out. M.Ellis hits a pop fly into shallow right field. Heyward loses the ball in the sun and it drops in for a hit. Uribe scores, and Victorino advances to second base. The score is now 2-0 Blue. Charitable scoring gives M.Ellis a pop fly single, and no error on Heyward. Kemp flies out to center, but too shallow to advance Victorino. Hanley pops out to Freeman for the second out. Atlanta makes another pitching change. Enter rookie lefty Luis Avilan. He walks Ethier. Atlanta makes yet another pitching change, and calls in righty Cristhian Martinez in a double switch. Reed Johnson comes in to play left field, but the Braves bring him in as an extra infielder. Prado moves in from left field to third base. The Dodgers counter with lefty swinging pinch-hitter James Loney batting for Rivera. Loney eventually lines out to Freeman, and the Braves get out of it with only one run allowed.
Bottom of the eighth. Set-up man Ronald Belisario is on the mound for the Dodgers. He whiffs Janish for the first out. Former Dodger Reed Johnson also whiffs for the second out. Bourn flies out to left.
To the top of the ninth we go with the Dodgers still leading 2-0. Martinez stays out for the top of the ninth. Cruz grounds out. AJ gets a generous double on another sun pop up that Heyward loses in the sun. This time he tries to dive for it, but can only trap it. More charitable scoring gives AJ a double. Pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy who was batting for Belisario’s spot, singles on another pop fly sun single. This time to left field, Johnson and Janish converge but it drops between them. Victorino walks to load the bases. M.Ellis delvers the big blow, a three run double down the left field line, that bounces just past the diving Prado. The Dodgers now take a 5-0 lead! Kemp goes ohfer in the series as he flies out to right field. Victorino tags up to third. Hanley whiffs to end the inning. The Dodgers get a big three to go up by five runs.
Move to the bottom of the ninth. Scott Elbert just activated pitches a scoreless ninth to preserve the win for the Dodgers. However Cruz is taken out of the game because of an unknown leg injury. It looks like he hurt his leg on that grounder in the top of the eighth inning. Adam Kennedy takes over at third. Elbert gets Prado to ground out. Heyward to fly out to left. Freeman foul tip whiffs for the last out. The Dodgers win 5-0!
Great win to wrap up a great road-trip. The Dodgers win the series from Atlanta and win seven of ten on the road-trip. The Dodgers will now fly home to take on the Giants, in a three game battle for first place. Tomorrow the next chapter of the Dodgers/Giants rivalry will be written. Tomorrow at 7:10PM Clayton Kershaw will duel Madison Bumgarner in a battle of lefties in game one. Join us tomorrow night for more coverage of exciting Dodger Baseball. Let’s hope we wake up tomorrow back in first place! Go Blue.