Coming off a 4-5 road trip, the Los Angeles Dodgers found just the right curative waiting at home in the personage of the San Diego Padres. A four game series was scheduled, and by the time Sunday's final game had concluded, their road ills had been dispatched.
LA used all forms of victory over SD, coming from behind to take the first game 8-5. A couple of close fought last inning victories, 1-0 Friday and 2-1 Saturday. Sunday they closed out the sweep with a more relaxed 7-3 decision with ace Chad Billingsley on the mound.
The surprising Padres came to town only 2.5 games behind the Dodgers, but leave 6.5 out while Los Angeles now sports an 18-8 record, which is the top mark in all of the majors. They are 17-6 against division opponents while San Francisco is the next best in the West with a break-even 10-10 mark.
Many prognosticators have tabbed LA to take the NL West, particularly after inking Manny Ramirez to a new deal. Winning in the division is always a key element to achieving that goal, and the Dodgers have started off extremely well in that regard, which has to be very satisfying to manager Joe Torre, GM Ned Collitti, and owner Frank McCourt.
Unprecedented Home Start
The Dodgers 10-0 record at home is the best in franchise history, besting the 9-0 start by the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers. They have tied the NL record held by three teams: the 1983 Atlanta Braves (managed by Joe Torre), the 1970 Chicago Cubs, and the 1918 New York Giants. The Major League mark is 12-0 courtesy of the 1911 Detroit Tigers, one season before Tiger Stadium was opened.
Manny Among Four Rested Sunday
You could not accuse the Dodgers of going with their Sunday best against the Pads on May 3. Torre elected to rest half of his regulars, including Manny Ramirez, who called Joe in the morning to report a tight hamstring. Torre had noticed Manny not moving around as well lately, but had hoped to wait another day or two before sitting him. Already slated for a breather was catcher Russell Martin, third baseman Casey Blake, and shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Bench Steps Up
Leading off Sunday was Juan Pierre, who singled and scored to open the Dodger first inning. Pierre was 2-for-4 on the day, scoring twice and driving in one. Juan Castro was also 2-for-4 with a run scored while Brad Ausmus went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a walk. Mark Loretta was 0-for-3 before being substituted in a double switch in the eighth.
Filling The Bill
Chad Billingsley bounced back from a shaky start in San Francisco to pick up his fifth win of the season. He gave the Dodgers seven strong innings, conceding two runs while scattering four hits and four walks. He struck out eight while delivering 111 pitches, 65 of them for strikes. Three first inning runs were a solid foundation to build on and Chad executed his game plan to finalize the sweep of San Diego.
Vin Brings A Grin
Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully continues to amaze in his 60th season as a Dodger announcer. His persona is one of a grandfatherly type, kind but brooking no foolishness or vulgarity, often weaving classical music or early film legends into his broadcast. Sunday he served up a knuckleball, citing the Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor comedy classic Blazing Saddles, specifically the role of Harvey Korman as "Headley Lamarr", an obvious send-up of screen legend Hedy Lamarr, while Padre left fielder Chase Headley was up. The laughter in his voice showed an appreciation for the irreverent and rather rude comedy.
The Dodgers look to continue their winning ways when the Arizona Diamondbacks make their first visit to LA in a brief two game set. LA sends Eric Stults against Doug Davis on Monday and Jeff Weaver will face Max Scherzer on Tuesday. Both games start at 7:10 PM Pacific, Monday's game will be on Prime Ticket with KCAL 9 taking over on Tuesday.