Dodgers-Astros: Chad Billingsley Struggles Once Again in 8-1 Defeat

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Dodgers-Astros: Chad Billingsley Struggles Once Again in 8-1 Defeat

The Los Angeles Dodgers (56-34) and the Houston Astros (46-44) saw their aces go toe-to-toe at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Chad Billingsley, fresh off of his first career All-Star appearance on Tuesday, took the hill for the hometown Dodgers against Roy Oswalt of the Astros.

Oswalt came out victorious in a game that was never in question, as the Astros scored early and held a big lead throughout the night en route to an 8-1 win.

Billingsley was in hopes of regaining control of the four-game series but came into the game winless in his past five starts and has not won since June 14 at Texas. He was knocked around in his last outing against the Brewers and had a difficult first inning tonight when the Astros sent nine men to the plate.

Billingsley retired the first two batters of the game with just five pitches but then allowed six consecutive hits and four runs.

Miguel Tejada got the hit parade going with a two-out home run that gave the Astros a 1-0 lead and was Tejada’s eighth long ball of the season.

The Astros followed the home run with back-to-back two-out singles, and then Hunter Pence lined a double off the wall in left, extending the lead to 3-0.

The disturbing part about the double was the way Manny Ramirez slowly jogged to the ball as it came off the wall. Juan Pierre, who gave Matt Kemp a rest in centerfield and made his first start since Ramirez returned to the lineup, had to come all the way over and field the ball.

Pence came around when Houston racked up their fifth straight hit, this time an RBI single to left field by Ivan Rodriguez.

Again, Ramirez loafed to the ball and by time he fielded it Pence was already halfway around third and there was no chance at throwing him out at the plate.

As if that wasn’t enough, Manny had an ugly strikeout in the bottom of the inning when Oswalt confused him with an off-speed pitch. Manny whiffed at it badly on a half-swing and tossed his helmet aside while having a laugh about things.

He seemed very aloof tonight, which is not a good sign for Dodgers fans.

Billingsley continued his struggles in the second when he gave up two more runs and exited the game after just one-and-a-third innings. He threw 52 pitches and gave up six runs on nine hits in a forgettable outing.

Chad consistently missed his pitch locations and let balls catch far too much of the plate.

It was the third shortest start of his career and the six earned runs tied a career high. He has given up five or more runs in three of his last five starts. If the Dodgers want to hold their current lead in the NL West, Billingsley is going to have to turn things around in a hurry.

The Dodgers finally scored a post-All-Star break run, but not without some help from the Astros.

Orlando Hudson hit a high fly ball to right field but Pence lost it in the night sky, allowing Hudson to make it all the way to third. Russell Martin grounded to third and brought in Hudson to make it a 7-1 game.

Aside from that, Oswalt was dazzling as he threw a complete game four-hitter and handed the Dodgers their second loss in as many nights. Oswalt got 15 groundball outs on the night while tossing his third complete game of the season.

Fortunately, the Dodgers got some help from the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates. They defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in 14 innings and prevented the Giants from gaining any ground in the NL West and the Dodgers still lead the division by six-and-a-half games. The Pirates won on a walk-off home run by Garrett Jones, who hit two solo blasts on the night.

 

 

 

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WP: Oswalt (6-4)

LP: Billingsley (9-5)

 

PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers

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