LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Chad Billingsley seems to take some time to get in the groove.
The Los Angeles right-hander gave up a two-run homer to the third batter he faced, allowed an RBI single in the second, then settled down to keep Milwaukee in check for the rest of his stint in the Dodgers' 5-3 win Friday night."I knew I couldn't give up any more runs, had to just keep battling and try to keep putting up zeroes to keep them right where they were," Billingsley (12-9) said after his seven innings of work keyed the Dodgers' fifth win in a row.Allowing just one hit after the second inning, he gave up five total, struck out five and walked two.Jeff Kent singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth for the Dodgers, who remained tied atop the NL West with Arizona, a 12-2 winner over Houston.The second-place Brewers fell 5 1/2 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the Central Division. Milwaukee remained two games ahead of St. Louis in the NL wild-card standings.Gabe Kapler gave the Brewers a quick 2-0 lead with his seventh homer, then Jason Kendall singled home another run in the second for a 3-1 edge.Billingsley didn't get rattled."I wasn't really too worried about it. I knew I had pretty good stuff and it was just a matter of staying ahead of hitters and getting the count in my favor," he said after matching his win total of last season.Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said Billingsley handles adversity well."The thing about Chad Billingsley is that he doesn't stop trying. Some pitchers, if they don't have their good stuff or good location, they tend to get frustrated," Torre said. "He seems to be able to keep in a good place."Billingsley impressed Kendall."He made some adjustments and kept the ball down. He's got good movement on his fastball. He made a couple of mistakes early on, but then he settled in nicely," Kendall said."He doesn't walk that many people, so when he makes mistakes, you've got to get him."Casey Blake hit a two-run home run for Los Angeles and Russell Martin added a solo shot in the eighth. Manny Ramirez provided Los Angeles' first run with an RBI single in the opening inning, giving him 17 RBIs in 14 games with the Dodgers. Blake has 12 RBIs in his last 13 games."Casey had a big game for us, and Jeff had a great game," Billingsley said. "It was good to battle back and be able to win."Down 3-1 in the fourth, Blake drew the Dodgers even at 3-3 with his homer off Manny Parra (9-6) in the fourth.The Dodgers took a 4-3 lead when Kent followed Matt Kemp's one-out double in the fifth with his run-scoring single off Parra.Martin added his 11th home run, a towering fly that ticked off Kapler's glove and over the wall in left, against Carlos Villanueva in the eighth. It was Martin's first homer since July 10th, ending a 27-game drought.The Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton, who stranded runners at second and third in the eighth by retiring Corey Hart on a fly that Juan Pierre caught on the warning track in right center, got the final four outs. The save was his ninth in 15 chances.Parra, who has four losses and a no-decision in his last five starts, allowed four runs and 10 hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings. It could have been worse -- David Riske replaced him with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth and ended the threat by retiring Kemp on a fly to center.Parra said his pitches were moving well, just not always going exactly where he would liked."I had the best stuff I've had all year, but that doesn't mean I had the best command I've had all year," he said. "The splitter was great until the home run to Blake. At that point, it was the only mistake I made with that pitch."Other than that, it's as good as it was all year."
Milwaukee All-Star LF Ryan Braun, who missed his sixth consecutive game because of a sore lower back, took batting practice but isn't expected to be back in the starting lineup until Sunday at the earliest. ... Los Angeles was coming off a four-game sweep of Philadelphia in a series that began a 10-game homestand by the Dodgers, who are in the midst of string of 21 of 27 games in Chavez Ravine that began on July 25. ... The Dodgers have won eight of the last nine against Milwaukee in Los Angeles. ... Heading into the weekend series, the Brewers had won 13 of their last 16 road games.