Dodgers Eek One Out Against Padres

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Billingsley, Guerra Walk Tightrope, Shutout Padres 1-0

Runs were at a premium Friday night at Dodger Stadium, but the Dodgers were able to push across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Padres 1-0 in the opener of a three-game set at Dodger Stadium. Rafael Furcal, who was in a 2-for-19 slump since returning from the disabled list, delivered a ground ball single through the hole at second base to score pinch runner Trent Oeltjen for the game's only run. Chad Billingsley pitched eight scoreless innings for his eighth win of the season.

The Dodgers didn't put a runner in scoring position until the eighth inning, when A.J. Ellis singled and Jamey Carroll sacrificed Oeltjen to second base. Tony Gwynn Jr. singled to right field with one out, but Oeltjen had to hold up to make sure the ball went through the infield, so he couldn't score.

Billingsley has pitched eight innings in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career. He was shaky at times, walking five (two intentional), but kept inducing ground ball outs to get out of jams, including two inning-ending double plays. "It sounded like talking to A.J. [Ellis] that it was rough early and he kept working through it," manager Don Mattingly said of Billingsley. "Then he settled down and his stuff seemed to get even better. He hung in there and battled, and kept pitching."

The Padres loaded the bases with nobody out off closer Javy Guerra in the ninth inning, with a leadoff double and two hit batters. However, Guerra struck out Kyle Phillips and Will Venable, then got Jason Bartlett to line out to center fielder Matt Kemp to end the game. It was the Dodgers' first save opportunity since June 19.

The Dodgers have shutout consecutive opponents for the second time this season, doing the same June 19 against Houston and June 20 against Detroit. This was the Dodgers' second 1-0 win of the season. Rubby De La Rosa and Aaron Harang face off Saturday afternoon in the second game of the series.

For more news and information on the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Andre Ethier Looking Forward To Return To Phoenix Hometown As An All-Star

Andre Ethier of the Dodgers earlier on Friday was named as a National League All-Star, replacing Shane Victorino, although it took a little while for Ethier to find out. He was at home, in his backyard, playing wiffle ball with his kids. Ethier eventually got the call from manager Don Mattingly, but it was after several attempts. "I kept pushing ignore because we were in the middle of an intense game," Ethier joked.

Ethier grew up in Phoenix and now resides in nearby Chandler. Asked whether or not he would get booed in his hometown, the former Sun Devil said, "Hopefully there are some Arizona State fans in attendance." As for the importance of the game in Phoenix, Ethier thought it would be great for Arizona. "Baseball has always thrived there," he said. "It's nice to have something as big for the city as and as important as the 2001 World Series."

Victorino beat out Ethier in the Final Vote, the results of which were announced Thursday. Ethier said he voted for himself once. When Victorino was placed on the DL Friday, Ethier was quickly chosen by All-Star manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants. "It's an honor to get selected by an opposing manager, somebody you play against in your division a lot," said Ethier.

Ethier is the 12th Dodgers outfielder to be named to the All-Star team in two straight seasons. He started last year's game in center field, the only time he has played that positon in the major leagues. As for what Ethier might do if he wasn't named to the All-Star team? "Sit at home, ride my tractor, mow my pastures," said the outfielder and now two-time All-Star.

For more news and information on Andre Ethier and the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Vs. Padres: Friday Starting Lineups

The Dodgers head into the All-Star break with one final series at Dodger Stadium, the battle for last place in the National League West with the Padres beginning Friday night. Chad Billingsley starts the opener for Los Angeles, while Mat Latos gets the call for the Dodgers. Here are tonight's starting lineups:

Padres (40-49)

Venable RF
Bartlett SS
Headley 3B
Ludwick LF
Hudson 2B
Maybin CF
Rizzo 1B
Johnson C
Latos P

Dodgers (38-51)

Gwynn LF
Furcal SS
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Uribe 3B
Miles 2B
Ellis C
Billingsley P

This makes eight starts at catcher in the last 11 games for A.J. Ellis. With Rod Barajas playing in his second rehab game tonight for Class A Rancho Cucamonga, then catching tomorrow, my guess is that Dioner Navarro, hitting .176/.231/.278 on the season, will be designated for assignment once Barajas is activated, right after the All-Star break.

Tonight's 7:10 p.m. game will be televised by Prime Ticket. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers' Andre Ethier Named To All-Star Team To Replace Shane Victorino

The Dodgers may be in last place in the National League West, but when they take the field Friday night against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium, they will have three All-Stars. In addition to starting outfielder Matt Kemp and pitcher Clayton Kershaw, outfielder Andre Ethier was named to the National League All-Star team on Friday. Ethier is replacing Shane Victorino of the Phillies, who was placed on the disabled list.

Ethier is having his worst season in terms of power, but overall offensively he has managed to stay in line with his normal production, just in a different way. Ethier is hitting .313/.382/.451 this season, but with the lowered run environment that is the 2011 National League, Ethier's OPS+ is 137, a career high, after 135, 131, and 132 the last three seasons. Ethier is an All-Star for the second time, after starting in last year's midsummer classic.

Tonight's 7:10 p.m. game will be televised by Prime Ticket. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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Dodgers Finish First Half With Weekend Series Against Padres

The Dodgers finally got into the win column Thursday night, and look for more of the same Friday night as they open a three-game weekend series with the Padres at Dodger Stadium. Chad Billingsley gets the start in the opener for the Dodgers, opposed by Mat Latos of the Padres. The Dodgers are 3-3 against the Padres this season.

Billingsley is coming off a complete game loss on Sunday in Anaheim. He allowed three runs, all in the seventh inning, including a tiebreaking home run by Russell Branyan to suffer the loss, evening his record at 7-7 this year. Billingsley has allowed four total runs in 19 1/3 innings over his last three starts, for a 1.86 ERA. In eight home starts this season, Billingsley is 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA.

Latos is 5-9 this season with a 4.26 ERA. In five career starts against the Dodgers, Latos is 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings. The Dodgers won two of three games against the Padres in San Diego in April, and the Padres returned the favor at Dodger Stadium later in the month. The Dodgers are just 20-27 at home this year.

Tonight's 7:10 p.m. game will be televised by Prime Ticket. For more news and information on the Dodgers, or on tonight's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.

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