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LAD@SF: Billingsley fans seven Giants over six strong

SAN FRANCISCO -- Completing a series sweep of epic proportions, the Dodgers lost a game, sole possession of the division lead and outfielder Andre Ethier to injury on Wednesday.

Ethier suffered a strained left oblique while the Dodgers were blanked for the third consecutive game, 3-0, by the Giants, who pulled into a tie for first place in the National League West.

No Giants team in history had held a Dodgers team scoreless for an entire three-game series, but this one did.

The Dodgers' losing streak hit four in the culmination of a disastrous 1-8 trip as the offense's scoreless-innings drought reached 30, the most for a Dodgers club since 1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The only Dodger to reach third base in the entire series was Wednesday's losing pitcher, Chad Billingsley, who then was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch.

"It's been a long nine days," catcher A.J. Ellis said.

The Dodgers have been in first place since the sixth day of the season, they led by as many as 7 1/2 games on May 27 and by five as recently as June 17, but that's all gone now.

With disabled list stints for Matt Kemp and Mark Ellis appearing near an end, chances are Ethier will be the next one shelved. The Dodgers say he's day to day, but manager Don Mattingly said when he hears "oblique," he prepares for 20 days. Ethier, injured on a check swing, will undergo an MRI on Thursday.

Ethier, signed to a five-year, $85 million contract extension two weeks ago, was removed for precautionary reasons after being erased on a double-play grounder by Juan Rivera that ended the top of the first inning.

Mattingly was unusually quiet in his postgame session with reporters, reflecting a clubhouse partly distressed and partly in shock. And that was before the team equipment truck broke down en route to the airport.

"No runs in three days. It's hard to find anything positive out of it," said Mattingly.

Jerry Hairston said not hitting is just as contagious as hitting, and here's how the disease has spread: Bobby Abreu went 2-for-26 on the trip, Juan Uribe was 1-for-21, James Loney 0-for-15, Elian Herrera 2-for-31 and Ellis 4-for-21. The team was 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the series.

The trip also began with a shutout loss. The Dodgers had four hits Wednesday, the sixth time in the last nine games they had five hits or fewer.

"Am I out of answers?" Mattingly said, repeating a question. "Yeah, at this moment."

A moment later, general manager Ned Colletti entered the manager's office and closed the door behind him. The club is desperately in search of a corner infielder, but it's too early for most teams to unload bad contracts or good players.

"At this point it's hard to get help," Mattingly said. "You say go outside, but everybody in baseball knows you need help. There's nowhere to go."

Billingsley (4-7) rebounded from blowing a five-run lead in his last start. He had one tough inning, but with the Dodgers' lack of run support, one tough inning is all it takes.

He was out-pitched by Tim Lincecum, the two-time NL Cy Young winner, who snapped career highs of 10 starts without a victory and six consecutive losses. He came into the game 2-8 with a 6.07 ERA, including a loss to the Dodgers on May 9.

The Dodgers, who have one homer in the last 13 games, nearly scored in the third, and it was Billingsley who almost did it, doubling with one out, taking third on a wild pitch and trying to score on what would have been another wild pitch.

But the ball caromed off the backstop to catcher Hector Sanchez, who threw to Lincecum at the plate. Billingsley slid into Lincecum, who was knocked over with his glove coming off his left hand. On his back, Lincecum with both hands held the glove up to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to show the ball was still in it and got the out call.

"I'm not much to go through, but he was going to have to go through me to get to the plate," Lincecum said.

Lincecum took a page from Billingsley and started a rally in the bottom of the third with a single, went to second on Gregor Blanco's groundout, third on Ryan Theriot's single and scored on Melky Cabrera's sinking liner that left fielder Bobby Abreu tried to trap. Buster Posey walked to load the bases and Angel Pagan walked for the second run.

Pagan drove in the third run in the fifth inning with a one-out single after Theriot's double and a walk to Posey.

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