09/17/08 11:56 PM ET
Dodgers outslugged by Pirates
Billingsley lasts 4 2/3 innings; Nomar reinjures left knee
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
In a real mess of a game, Adam LaRoche slugged two homers with five RBIs and Ryan Doumit homered and drove in four as the Pirates pounded out a 15-8 win over the Dodgers, who lost Nomar Garciaparra for an unspecified time with a knee injury.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, the staff leader in victories, allowed LaRoche's homers and a season-high six earned runs. And he didn't even get the defeat. The Dodgers offense got him off the hook, erasing a 7-4 deficit to tie the game in the top of the seventh.
Matt Kemp had four hits, Russell Martin had three hits and three RBIs and middle infielders Angel Berroa and Pablo Ozuna combined for four hits and three RBIs. But a cluster of relievers let it all get away in an eight-run bottom of the seventh.
"It's a loss you have to put behind you," said manager Joe Torre, whose club had won 14 of the previous 16 games. "The way we caught up, with Berroa doubling in the tying run, that's gift stuff. It looked good, but we couldn't get to the eighth inning."
The D-backs' win over the Giants cut the Dodgers' lead in the National League West to 3 1/2 games, the first time Los Angeles has lost ground to Arizona since Aug. 29.
With Hong-Chih Kuo resting his elbow, Takashi Saito scheduled to pitch Thursday and Brad Penny having thrown a pregame bullpen session, Torre found himself reaching deep into his expanded bullpen when Billingsley was driven for cover by LaRoche's fifth-inning grand slam.
Joe Beimel put an end to the fifth with a strikeout and Scott Proctor took over, mowing through the next five batters while the Dodgers rallied to tie. Proctor was lifted with two outs and nobody on in the seventh because left-handed hitter Nate McLouth was coming up. It was a situation ideally suited for Kuo, and if you think his absence won't matter the rest of the way, consider the results.
Torre brought in rookie Scott Elbert and the four batters he faced reached base, including a walk to McLouth followed by a Doumit home run. Jason Johnson took over and allowed three more consecutive hits and the rout was on.
"[McLouth] has 23 of 26 homers against right-handers. I felt good about that situation," Torre said. "I set up that line of hitters for Elbert, but it didn't work. He was trying to overthrow the ball."
Although Billingsley avoided the loss, his early departure helped cause it. The 4 2/3 innings was his shortest start since his season opener and the six earned runs the most he's allowed all season. He came into the game with wins in six of his past seven decisions.
"I wasn't good. I didn't make pitches," said Billingsley, whose ERA jumped from 3.02 to 3.22. "Last week, I was missing out of the zone. Today, over the plate. I feel fine. I just wasn't good today. We didn't play well today. It happens."
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Billingsley was "in and out" of his delivery. Billingsley's most common flaw is to twist from side to side as he's releasing the ball, instead of driving toward the plate.
"It affects his location consistency," Honeycutt said. "Sometimes that's physical. Sometimes it's a mental thing. He just missed spots in key situations tonight. You're going to have a bad one every now and then."
A lot happened in this game, most of it the Dodgers would like to forget. Garciaparra sprained the left knee he originally injured July 27 when he got the stop sign from third-base coach Larry Bowa and tried to slam on the brakes well down the third-base line in the fifth inning. He was tagged out by former Dodgers third baseman Andy LaRoche, as was Berroa when he tried to stretch a double into a triple to draw a throw while Ozuna was scoring the tying run in the seventh.
The Dodgers committed two errors and both were costly, third baseman Casey Blake's in the third inning turning into an unearned run and James Loney's wild throw in the seventh allowed two more unearned runs.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.