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07/17/10 1:21 AM ET

Trouble comes early in Dodgers' loss

Manny exits with injury in first; Billingsley suffers short start

ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers might be able to add a starting pitcher via trade this month, but they can't add five of them.

Clayton Kershaw's disappointing start Thursday night was followed by an equally ineffective outing by Chad Billingsley on Friday night as the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals, 8-4, in a game that saw Manny Ramirez (right calf) and Russell Martin (left thumb) leave with injuries.

After getting 4 1/3 innings from Kershaw, Billingsley (7-5) gave manager Joe Torre only four-plus innings, charged with seven runs on 10 hits, his ERA jumping from 4.14 to 4.61. He's allowed 11 runs in his last 11 innings.

"Billingsley just had a bad game," Torre said. "He had no explanation. Kershaw didn't either. Just two bad starts. The opposition scored the first five innings. That's not a good sign. Just two bad starts by pitchers who had been pitching well for us. We had plenty of opportunities to cut into it, just couldn't get the next hit."

"Well, Kershaw and Billingsley will shut you down if they are pinpointing," said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. "But we have done a good job getting the count in our favor and if the ball is in the strike zone, being aggressive with it. So if the guy tomorrow [Hiroki Kuroda] comes out and is nasty, well, there goes your offense. But we have done a good job more often than not of forcing the ball into the middle of the plate and then having some good hacks."

Earlier this year, Billingsley was chased after three innings by the Reds, said afterward that he was making quality pitches, and that led to a meeting with Torre and a more aggressive approach on the mound for Billingsley, who won five of his next six decisions.

Billingsley defended this outing, too.

"I didn't really struggle," he said. "They put the ball in play, found holes and made things happen. I threw the ball pretty well. It was one of those days."

Martin pretty much agreed.

"I didn't feel he pitched that bad," said Martin. "Maybe a few spots with hitters he could have put away and didn't really have that put-away pitch. That's about it. They hit some good pitches tonight."

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said he couldn't be sure without seeing video of Billingsley's pitches, but said even good pitches can get hit in the wrong counts. Honeycutt also said Billingsley's curveball "didn't come into play tonight" and his ineffectiveness against left-handed hitters is a concern.

Left-handed hitters were 6-for-11 against Billingsley on Friday night and are .308 against him on the season.

"To me, left-handers certainly are one place where he's got to improve," Honeycutt said. "I don't know what exactly his numbers are, but not what it should be with his stuff."

Right-handed hitter Yadier Molina drove in four of the St. Louis runs, two against Billingsley, the other two on a home run off left-handed reliever George Sherrill, pitching for the second consecutive game with the knowledge his job is in jeopardy after being placed on outright waivers by the club.

Sherrill, who last year allowed only two runs in 30 innings after being acquired in August, has an ERA of 7.17

The Dodgers were in trouble after one-half inning when Ramirez was removed with a tight right calf one day after coming off the disabled list for a hamstring strain. Ramirez walked with two outs in the first inning and ran out Casey Blake's third-out popup, but Xavier Paul was sent out to replace him in left field for the bottom of the first.

As Kershaw did one game earlier, Billingsley dug a first-inning hole, this time three runs on Randy Winn's two-run triple and Molina's RBI single. The Cardinals scored single runs off Billingsley in the second, third and fourth innings.

Third-inning singles by Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Blake and James Loney (who had three hits) got the Dodgers a pair of runs off Jaime Garcia, who was lifted in the fourth inning despite leading by three runs. The Dodgers added two runs in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk by Rafael Furcal and Kemp's sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers had 13 hits, but stranded 12 while going 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.