Ryan Dempster was too much to handle as the Boys in Blue fell 3-1 to the visitors from the North Side of Chicago.
Billingsley, in his second start back since skipping an outing with a strained hamstring, worked six innings and tied a season-high with nine hits allowed for the Dodgers (74-51).
Despite striking out five and walking only one batter, the Cubs (62-60) scored three runs on him, which came as a surprise considering they had plated just three in the first three games of the series combined.
But the offense gave Billingsley no aid, as they hit harmless fly balls and bounced weak ground balls all day long against Dempster in a futile three-hit effort at the plate.
The Dodgers pitching staff has now surrendered three or fewer runs in eight-straight games, posting a 2.19 ERA (17 ER/70 IP), but they have gone just 5-3 over that stretch.
The last time they accomplished such a streak was from August 2-11, 2006, when they had a 10-game stretch and went 9-1.
The scoring started when the teams exchanged runs in the second inning.
Chicago scored on a Jake Fox home run, but then promptly shot themselves in the foot to give the run right back.
In the bottom of the frame, Aramis Ramirez committed a throwing error that allowed Matt Kemp to reach and advance to second base.
One out later, switch-hitting Tony Abreu singled from the left side of the plate to bring home Kemp and even the count at 1-1.
It was Abreu’s first RBI of the season after being recalled from triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday.
He was giving All-Star second baseman Orlando Hudson a well-deserved day off, and earlier in August spent two days on the roster, going 1-for-4 in that time before knocking in a run today.
The Cubs regained the lead by pushing across two runs in the sixth.
Ramirez, who made the error earlier leading to a Dodgers run, leadoff with a triple that kicked around the left field corner as Manny Ramirez helplessly chased after the ball.
After Kosule Fukudome doubled and Fox, who went 4-for-4, added a single, the Dodgers fell behind 3-1.
Starting the bottom of the sixth, they looked to have something going when Juan Pierre pinch-hit for Billingsley and reached on an infield single.
But Rafael Furcal bounced into a fielder’s choice and Andre Ethier tapped into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning before the opportunity could pan out.
Some interesting situations arose in the bottom of the eighth, as the Dodgers put the tying runs on base after back-to-back walks to start the inning.
Mark Loretta then grounded a ball in the hole between third and shortstop, forcing Ryan Theriot to field the ball falling to his right side.
The weak throw appeared to have pulled Mark Fontenot off the base at second, but umpire Chad Fairchild called Abreu out in the force play.
Joe Torre came out to argue, but his argument fell on deaf ears.
Now with runners on the corners, pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson appeared to have blooped a single into center field, scoring Russell Martin from third.
But third base umpire Wally Bell had called time before the pitch was delivered, and the runners were sent back to their respective bases.
Hudson would then ground into a double play to bail the Cubs out of a sticky situation.
Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fifth save of the season and lockup a much needed win for the slumping Cubs.
Los Angeles will now take a breath and take tomorrow off while traveling to Colorado for a three-game series. The Rockies, in another comeback effort, defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-2 today to creep within three-and-a-half games of the Blue Crew.
Pending the outcome of tomorrow’s game between the Rockies and Giants, the Dodgers could start the pivotal series with Colorado leading by only three games within the NL West.
WP: Dempster (7-7)
LP: Billingsley (12-7)
SV: Marmol (5)
Notes from Sunday afternoon
What a Difference a Year…Doesn’t…Make
James Loney has seven home runs this season—all of which have come on the road. He last went deep at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 22, 2008, one year ago yesterday.
Homerless Streak Snapped
Chad Billingsley allowed a second-inning home run to Jake Fox. Prior to that, he had given up a homer in his five previous starts (30 consecutive innings).
PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers
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