Two big innings spell Dodgers' demise
Billingsley allows four in first as LA remains in last-place funk
LOS ANGELES -- From the four-run first-inning hole starter Chad Billingsley dug to the seven runs the bullpen gave up in the eighth and ninth to all the ugliness in between, the Dodgers continued to look the part of a last-place team Wednesday night.
They committed two errors, a passed ball and bungled a rundown of Carlos Gomez in an 11-3 loss to the Brewers, the second consecutive night Milwaukee rang up 11 runs after struggling to score just twice in four games against the Padres.
"That's something we certainly need to figure out," manager Joe Torre said about his pitching staff, which now has a 5.05 ERA. "The only way we're going to be consistent is to pitch better than we've been pitching."
In the wake of Clayton Kershaw's second-inning meltdown Tuesday night, Billingsley was headed for a first-inning repeat. Eight pitches in, he had allowed four singles to left field and two runs on the board. A third scored on catcher Russell Martin's passed ball and a fourth trotted home on Alcides Escobar's triple.
After exercising patience to exploit Kershaw's wildness, the Brewers reversed strategy and attacked Billingsley's pitches.
"They came out aggressive, swinging early in the count," Billingsley said. "I went to more offspeed and mixed pitches more. You can't sit and think about it. You've got to hold them right there."
The Brewers were so comfortable at the plate that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt suspected Billingsley was tipping his pitches. Instead, video showed Billingsley was just making poor ones.
"I have no clue, it happened so quickly," said Torre. "It looked like they were getting his pitches. But from the second inning through, he dominated. Probably the reason for the hits was he didn't locate as well."
Honeycutt said Billingsley adjusted by throwing more two-seamers, and the ball started running. After Escobar's two-out triple in the first, Billingsley didn't allow another Milwaukee player past second base, and he battled through six innings. He even took a Prince Fielder comebacker off his left calf in the fifth inning, but kept pitching.
Minimizing the damage allowed his teammates to make a game of it. The Dodgers answered with a pair of first-inning runs against Doug Davis on RBI singles by James Loney and Casey Blake, but all they got after that was an RBI pinch-hit single in the sixth inning by Garret Anderson to snap his 0-for-17 slump.
It was a one-run game going into the eighth inning, the second frame pitched by Ronald Belisario. He proceeded to walk two of the first three batters, and the roof caved in. Belisario was charged with three runs; two inherited by Ramon Troncoso, who watched the inning extend when his infielders couldn't properly execute a rundown play.
The Dodgers left second base uncovered and Gomez, who stopped halfway to third on Ryan Braun's RBI single to right field, crawled back safely after Blake chased him with no one to throw to.
"The rundown play was weird," Torre said. "Casey threw the ball to [second baseman Ronnie] Belliard, and normally the third baseman runs the guy to second, but he just threw the ball to the second baseman. [Shortstop] Jamey [Carroll], on the throw in, was on his way to back up Casey. It was just a weird play. It didn't look good, no question."
A lot didn't look good. Blake had an RBI single, but also committed a pair of errors and went 1-for-5 with a strikeout and a game-ending double play. Matt Kemp singled and scored a run, but also struck out three times and grounded into a double play. Reed Johnson, playing left field with Manny Ramirez due to return Saturday, went 0-for-5.
And in the ninth, reliever George Sherrill's troubles continued when he walked the leadoff batter, served up a pinch-hit double to Corey Hart and a two-run single to Rickie Weeks. After the inning ended on a double-play liner, Sherrill flipped his glove to a boy in the seats behind the Dodgers' dugout as he walked off the field in disgust.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.