Dodgers claim series of West's best
Blake drives in four runs; Billingsley earns ninth victory
ARLINGTON -- The Dodgers played small ball. They played long ball. But most important, the Dodgers scored enough to beat one of the best teams in the American League in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Rangers.Casey Blake provided the long ball with a three-run shot in the third inning. The homer traveled an estimated 436 feet into the Dodgers' bullpen in deep left-center field. It gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead they would never lose.
"I just try to do what I can to help the team," he said. "It's nice to score some runs for [Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley]. Our offense has been a little down lately. It was nice to come out and support your pitcher."The home run was his 10th of the season and gave him nine consecutive seasons with at least 10 home runs. His last home run was also a three-run home run that came at home on May 19 against Mets starter John Maine. Blake has hit safely in six straight games and is hitting .391 (9-for-23) over that stretch. His four RBIs were a season high and matched his most since he collected a career-high seven on June 2 last season in Arlington with the Indians. Much of the remainder of the lineup contributed to the small-ball part. It was the first time the Dodgers effectively used small ball in the three-game series. Dodgers manager Joe Torre said the fact that the Rangers had a rookie starter had nothing to do with it. "It had to do with what we needed to do," he said. "We try to play small ball, aggressive ball, whatever you call it, with the top of our lineup. You distract them. It works." The win was the 2,193rd of Torre's career and moved him to within one to tie Sparky Anderson for fifth on the all-time wins list for managers. Rangers manager Ron Washington noticed the impact the Dodgers made on his starter, Derek Holland, who took the loss and allowed four earned runs over five innings. "They made Derek work from his first pitch," Washington said. "They made every single one of our pitchers work. They're a good contact-hitting team. They've got a little speed and they've got a little pop." The Dodgers had plenty of opportunities to score more: They left 11 men on base. Juan Pierre started the game with a walk, and Rafael Furcal successfully converted a bunt for a hit. Orlando Hudson then sacrificed both runners over. Pierre then scored when Blake hit a sacrifice fly. That was the first run scored against the Rangers' rotation in 17 2/3 innings. "It wasn't planned," Blake said. "That's just Furcal being himself. He likes doing things like that. Those guys did it on their own." Two innings later, the Dodgers set up Blake's home run with more small ball. Brad Ausmus doubled to lead off the third inning, and Pierre followed with a walk. Furcal sacrificed both runners over. Two batters later, Blake provided his big shot in support of his starting pitcher. Billingsley went seven innings and allowed three runs, two of which were earned. With the bases loaded in the first inning and one out, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz hit into what appeared to be a double play to end the inning. The Dodgers were unable to convert it, and two runs, one earned, scored. That gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Former Dodger Andruw Jones hit a solo home run in the fourth inning that brought the Rangers to 4-3. The win was Billingsley's ninth of the season, which ties him with the Giants' Matt Cain for most in the National League. He leads the Dodgers' staff with 92 2/3 innings pitched this season and has thrown at least six innings in 13 of 14 starts and seven or more innings eight times. He has allowed fewer than four earned runs in all but one of his 14 outings this season. Closer Jonathan Broxton pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth inning to record his 16th save in 18 opportunities this season. He closed out both of the Dodgers' wins in this series. Broxton is returning to his home in Waynesboro, Ga., after the game to see Jonathan Brooks Broxton, his son who was born Thursday. The closer is expected to rejoin Dodgers after Monday's off-day. Billingsley in his career and the Dodgers this season improved to 3-3 in Interleague Play. The Dodgers are 5-3 over their past eight games and 19-13 on the road this season. They continue to hold the best record in baseball at 42-22.
Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.