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LAD@SD: Headley starts a double play

SAN DIEGO -- You don't have to remind Chase Headley of how this all looks -- two games, two losses, two games that rate as sloppy defensively with sputtering offense at nearly every turn.

No, this isn't how Headley, the Padres' third baseman, envisioned the season starting, although he's not about to lose his wits over the smallest of sample sizes.

"If this happens in the middle of the season, it's a bump in the road," Headley said. "But when you have nothing to compare it against ... it seems a lot bigger than it is."

The Padres fell to the Dodgers, 6-0, in front of 32,490 at Petco Park on Friday, marking the first time the team has started the season with successive losses since 2003. That team went on to lose 98 games.

Los Angeles pitcher Chad Billingsley (1-0) came within two outs of a shutout, striking out 11 over 8 1/3 innings while allowing two hits over the first eight innings. He pitched to both sides of the plate, kept the ball buried in the strike zone and walked one batter.

He was, in a word, dominant.

"We talk about seeing [Dodgers pitcher Clayton] Kershaw grow up, but we've seen Billingsley along that same time frame," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Tonight was as good as I have seen him. He was on his game."

Billingsley, who has defeated the Padres (12 times) more than any other team, struck out the side in the first inning and struck out eight of the first 12 batters he faced. Billingsley allowed doubles to begin the second inning (Jesus Guzman) and fourth inning (Will Venable).

"It was just one of those days where everything felt really good. I had tempo and rhythm out there," Billingsley said.

The Padres, through the first two games of the season, have lacked more than tempo and rhythm. They have lacked production, having made five errors while tallying only eight hits. And after Billingsley breezed through the lineup, the hitters have struck out 18 times.

On Friday, with their assumed ace on the mound, left-hander Cory Luebke, they fell behind 2-0 in the first inning when Andre Ethier, a left-handed batter, reached out and drove a slider to the gap in right-center to score two runs with two outs.

Four innings later, Ethier got another slider he could handle, driving a ball to deep center field, again with two outs, for a two-run triple. That was the last batter Luebke (0-1) faced. He allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

"They were bad pitches at a bad time," Luebke said. "I give him credit. He squared them up. I put us behind the eight-ball. If I take care of Ethier, it's a different outcome. It was just a lack of execution."

Trailing, 2-0, Luebke allowed a one-out double to Mark Ellis in the third inning. Matt Kemp then topped a ball toward Headley at third base. Headley got the ball and rushed a throw that pulled Yonder Alonso off the bag at first base. Ellis just kept on running and scored when Alonso's throw him was a little too high for catcher Nick Hundley to corral. Alonso was charged with an error as Kemp went to second base.

"I tried to rush it," Alonso said. "I've got to make a better throw than that."

Luebke then threw wide of the bag at second base on a pickoff attempt, and Kemp scooted to third. Kemp scored when Juan Rivera lifted a soft single to shallow left field that glanced off the glove of shortstop Jason Bartlett for a 4-0 lead.

That was plenty for Billingsley, who only reached the 90-pitch mark after eight innings. He needed just seven pitches to get through that inning, giving the appearance that he might be in line for a complete game. But when Cameron Maybin singled with one out, Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly went to his bullpen for Jamey Wright to get the final two outs.

"We talk about our starting pitching setting the tone, and that's what Chad did right out of the gate," Mattingly said. "And Andre got us going with two off a lefty. They both set the tone for us. Comments