Billingsley Hurls Shutout, L.A. Wins 7th-Straight

On a day when offense was hard to come by, Chad Billingsley hurled a shutout over the first-place San Diego Padres and Russell Martin’s RBI single was all the streaking Dodgers needed to win their season-high seventh-in-a-row, 1-0.

[picappgallerysingle id="8647564"]Without slugger Andre Ethier, the Dodgers managed only two hits this afternoon, but that turned out to be enough as Russ singled in shortstop Jamey Carroll for the ballgame’s only run in the top of the sixth.

Then Jonathan Broxton shut the door with a perfect ninth and his third save of the series–seventh-out-of-nine chances on the season. The win marks the Dodgers 12th in the last 15 games.

But it was the right-handed Billingsley that was the hero today. On the mound Bills (4-2) posted six strikeouts in 7 and 1/3, allowing only four hits and one walk, as he finished the week with the ace-like command we’ve come to expect from the 25-year-old.

That’s impressive enough, but he did his job at the plate, too. After Carroll drew a lead-off walk the sixth inning, Bills dropped down a sacrifice bunt which later turned into a run off Martin’s single to center. That’s what I call paying the Bills.

Manager Joe Torre initially wanted to give Martin the day off after he caught back-to-back games this weekend (Martin has also started every game this month), but he figured it would be tough to give Martin, Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez the day off without having Ethier in the lineup.

It turned out to be a wise choice indeed, Joe. Russell Martin continues to be one of the Dodgers’ most reliable bats hitting safely in the last 11 games dating back to May 5 against the Brewers. During that span he’s batting .304 with two home-runs, seven RBI and seven runs-scored.

This afternoon’s win marks the first time this season the Dodgers have swept back-to-back divisional series. After entering the weekend with a three-and-a-half game lead, the Padres’ margin atop the NL West is down to a half game over the San Francisco Giants, who travel to San Diego for a two-game series starting Monday night.

The Dodgers are two games back in the division as they return home to Chavez Ravine to take on the Houston Astros (13-24) tomorrow night @ 10:10 EDT .

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