Billingsley, Broxton, And Kuo Continue Dominant Pitching Run, Dodgers Beat Padres 2-0

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Ethier's Pinch-Single Backs Dominant Dodger Pitching

Not even the stomach flu could keep Andre Ethier down, as he delivered a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit single in the seventh inning to support more wonderful Dodger pitching, giving them their fifth win in six games, a 2-0 final over the Padres. It was the Dodgers fourth shutout in their last six games.

Chad Billingsley was great in his six innings, not allowing a run and pushing his scoreless streak to 15 consecutive innings. He ran into some trouble in the fourth inning, loading the bases with nobody out, but got out of the jam with a groundout, a popout, and a strikeout to end the frame.In the last six games, Dodger starting pitchers have allowed just one earned run in 43 innings.

Billingsley was only at 84 pitches through six innings, and appeared primed to go deep into this game, but Padres manager Bud Black forced the Dodgers hand by walking Russell Martin intentionally to load the bases with two outs. Rather than have Billingsley hit, Joe Torre tabbed Ethier, a late scratch due to the illness that has also claimed Jonathan Broxton and Brad Ausmus in recent days in the Dodger clubhouse.

Hong-Chih Kuo has lobbied the coaching staff to let him pitch more, and tonight he got his wish, pitching two scoreless innings, allowing a pair of hits but striking out five. Kuo threw a season-high 34 pitches, and threw two innings in a game for the third time this month.

Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth for his 20th save, and it’s always nice to see Matt Stairs make the last out.

Hiroki Kuroda faces Clayton Richard in tomorrow night’s game.

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Andre Ethier Scratched Due To Flu Bug

Andre Ethier was scratched from tonight’s lineup with the flu, the same stomach bug that has claimed Jonathan Broxton and Brad Ausmus in the past few days. Here is the revised lineup, which features Garret Anderson (in left field) taking Andre Ethier’s place:

Furcal SS
Paul LF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Blake 3B
DeWitt 2B
Anderson RF
Martin C
Billingsley P

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Tonight's Dodgers-Padres Lineups

Here are tonight’s lineups for the opener of the three-game series between the Dodgers and Padres in San Diego:

Dodgers
Furcal SS
Kemp CF
Ethier RF
Loney 1B
Blake 3B
DeWitt 2B
Paul LF
Martin C
Billingsley P

Padres
J. Hairston 2B
Denorfia LF
Gonzalez 1B
Headley 3B
Torrealba C
Venable RF
Gwynn CF
Cabrera SS
Garland P

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The Dodgers Just Can't Quit Juan Castro

Juan Castro, who put up career highs of a .277 batting average and .311 on-base percentage off the Dodger bench last season, is one step closer to his third stint in Los Angeles, per Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse:

Infielder Juan Castro, released by #Phillies, signs minor-league deal with #Dodgers.

Castro was signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1991, and played the first five seasons of his career (1995-1999) in Los Angeles. He was released by the Phillies earlier this season after hitting .198 with a .237 on-base percentage and .238 slugging percentage in 54 games.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times added to the story:

Castro is working out at the Dodgers' spring training complex and will join triple-A Albuquerque for their next homestand.

The next homestand for the Isotopes begins on Wednesday, August 4.

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Billingsley, Dodgers Open Series In San Diego

(Sports Network) - After stumbling out of the gate to begin the second half, the Dodgers have finally started to turn things around. It's a good thing, because the National League West-leading Padres have had no such troubles since the All-Star break.

Los Angeles will be trying to close the gap with San Diego, starting tonight with the opener of a three-game series at Petco Park.

The Dodgers lost their first six games to begin the second half, but have won four of five since. That has them six games behind the first-place Padres.

Los Angeles took three of four from the Mets over the weekend despite scoring just seven runs. Russell Martin drove in the lone run in Sunday's 1-0 triumph, backing Clayton Kershaw's eight scoreless innings in which he gave up seven hits with one walk.

"Clayton is something special," said Dodger's skipper Joe Torre. "He stays focused and knows how to pitch under pressure. He's learning to pitch instead of overpowering people."

Kenley Jansen earned his first career save in his second big league outing by retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Chad Billingsley started the Dodgers' recent stretch by beating the Giants on Wednesday. The right-hander hurled the second shutout of his career in that one, a five-hitter in which he gave up two walks and struck out three.

"I stuck with my game plan and stayed down in the zone," Billingsley told Los Angeles' website. "I always try to do that, but some days it just doesn't happen."

Billingsley is 8-5 with a 4.22 earned run average on the season and 9-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 19 career games (15 starts) versus the Padres. The 26-year-old beat them on May 16 with 7 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding four hits and a walk to go along with six strikeouts.

Jon Garland will try to prevent Billingsley and the Dodgers from getting closer to the Padres in the standings. The right-hander is coming off a no- decision in Atlanta on Wednesday as he allowed four runs on six hits with a walk over five innings.

Garland has enjoyed Petco Park so far this year, going 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 starts at home. He got a no-decision versus the Dodgers as the hosting pitcher May 14 after allowing two runs over six innings. He then beat Los Angeles five days later on the road despite getting charged with four runs over five innings.

In his career versus the Dodgers, who he went 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six starts with last year, Garland is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA.

The Padres have won eight of 10 since the All-Star break and return home after a 4-2 road trip. That trek was capped on Sunday with a 6-3 victory, capping a three-game sweep for San Diego.

Chris Denorfia and Adrian Gonzalez both homered for the Padres. Denorfia's home run was is sixth in 11 games, a span in which he is hitting .341 (14- for-41) with 12 RBI.

Wade LeBlanc got the victory on Sunday, yielding three runs over six innings to earn his first win since June 12.

"The big thing was establishing strike one later in the game," LeBlanc said. "It takes away some of their aggressiveness."

At 58-39, the Padres are 19 games over .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 1998 season, which also marks their last World Series appearance.

Los Angeles has won four of five over the Padres this year, including a three- game sweep at Petco Park from May 14-16.

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