SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley hasn't completely abandoned the cutter, as he showed in his return from the disabled list Monday night.
A turning point for Billingsley earlier this year was de-emphasizing the cutter and returning to the power fastball and curve that got him to the Major Leagues. But catcher A.J. Ellis said Billingsley mixed in the pitch effectively during his six-inning return from a strained groin.
"Before, if he needed a strike, he'd use the cutter," said Ellis. "Now he uses it against a left-hander if he wants to run the ball in or against a right-hander that might roll over. But it's about the situation now.
"He's more a power pitcher than side to side. He doesn't need to nibble with the cutter and two-seamer. People were joking that he was pitching like a 30-year-old veteran instead of a 24-year-old."
Manny day-to-day after straining hamstring
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez left Tuesday night's game in the first inning with a strained right hamstring suffered running the bases against the Giants.
"It's hard to tell right now," trainer Stan Conte said. "He was walking normally when he left here. We'll take a look at him before the day game tomorrow and see how he recovers. With pulls, it's kind of hard to tell until the next day. We'll know a lot more tomorrow. I'm not thinking DL right now."
Ramirez, who is not speaking with reporters, told Conte he had trouble getting loose before the game on the outside of the right hamstring, but Conte said there was no pre-existing injury.
"He didn't feel it pop, so hopefully he's OK," said manager Joe Torre.
Ramirez had singled Andre Ethier to third base with two outs and James Loney followed with a single that scored Ethier. Ramirez rounded second, stopped, slowly spun around and headed back to second base before realizing there would be a play and made a late slide.
He originally was called out by umpire Ron Kulpa, but his right foot landed on the glove of Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria, kicking the ball loose. He came up limping and Matt Kemp was sent in as a pinch-runner. Kemp was out of the lineup for a third consecutive game.
The 38-year-old Ramirez is hitting .460 since June 13. He already has spent one stint on the disabled list this year with strained right calf muscle.
Benched Kemp enters as sub for Manny
SAN FRANCISCO -- Struggling Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, benched for a third consecutive start Tuesday night, will return to the lineup Wednesday, manager Joe Torre said.
Torre said Kemp asked to meet after seeing he was not in Tuesday's lineup. Asked if Kemp would be playing Wednesday if he had not come to him, Torre said: "I don't know that. I thought the talk went well."
Torre and Kemp were evasive about what led to the benching, but a witness said it resulted from a disagreement Kemp had with a member of the coaching staff in the dugout while discussing a game situation Saturday.
"That's just a report," Kemp said after Tuesday night's game, in which he took over for an injured Manny Ramirez in the first inning and went 2-for-4 with two difficult catches in the outfield.
Kemp, batting .196 in June coming into the game, acknowledged the season has become "frustrating," but he rejected the suggestion that he's sometimes perceived as not caring.
'Y'all can think what you want to think," he said. "I only care if my teammates think I care. They know I do what it takes to win. Everybody has their assumptions. I can't control what you guys think."
Kemp insisted his approach this year has been the same as last year, when he won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in a breakout season.
"I did everything I needed to do to have as good a season as I did last year," he said. "I've still got a whole half-season to turn this thing around and for us to do all the great things we did last year."
Torre would not confirm that the benching was a discipline issue.
"I get the chance to write the lineup every day and I put in who I put in," he said. "It's been frustrating for him, we all see that, and hopefully these days will give him a chance to breathe a bit. It's a tough game to play. He's a young man and you don't get a chance to regroup. He's played so much. It just looks like he's frustrated."
Pickings are slim for closer on Tuesday
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he didn't know who his closer would be Tuesday night, but he knew who it wouldn't be.
He said it wouldn't be normal closer Jonathan Broxton, who was getting a second game off after a 48-pitch ninth inning Sunday. And it wouldn't be left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who was credited with his second save of the season Monday night subbing for Broxton.
Torre said he also wouldn't use Ronald Belisario, who had pitched in three of the previous four games. And he wanted to stay away from Jeff Weaver, who pitched the seventh inning Monday night.
That left only three candidates -- struggling former Orioles closer George Sherrill, inconsistent middle reliever Ramon Troncoso and recent callup Justin Miller.
Monasterios shaky in Triple-A rehab outing
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers right-hander Carlos Monasterios, on the 15-day disabled list, began an injury rehab assignment for Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday night, and it didn't go very well.
Monasterios, disabled with a finger blister he didn't think was serious, was charged with five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings, four strikeouts and three walks. Monasterios' return would provide needed depth for the Dodgers' bullpen.
As a Rule 5 pick, he cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without clearing waivers and most likely would be lost back to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, reliever Cory Wade allowed one run on two hits in a one-inning rehab appearance for Class A Inland Empire. Wade is returning from spring shoulder surgery.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.