LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers got five shutout innings from their bullpen following an abbreviated start by Chad Billingsley and ran out the clock on a 6-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants before 33,993 on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, taking two of three in the series.
Veteran right-hander Jamey Wright took over for Billingsley to begin the fifth and pitched two perfect innings, striking out three while not allowing a ball to be hit out of the infield. Ronald Belisario followed that with a shaky but ultimately scoreless seventh, and Josh Lindblom struck out the first two batters he faced in a scoreless eighth.
Kenley Jansen, who still hasn't faced a save situation since being anointed the team's closer-of-the-moment on Monday, finished it off as the Dodgers (20-11) pushed their lead over the second-place Giants in the National League West back to five games, matching their biggest margin of the season.
Timely defense. Matt Kemp saved a run with his arm and his savvy in the top of the third. With runners on first and second and two outs, Joaquin Arias grounded a single through the middle. But with Brandon Belt rounding third and about to score easily, Nate Schierholtz took too big a turn at second, and Kemp fired a bullet to Adam Kennedy, who tagged Schierholtz diving back in before Belt could cross the plate, ending the inning and negating the run.
More timely defense. Shortstop Dee Gordon saved another run in the fourth, ranging behind the bag with the runners in motion to take what surely would have been an RBI single away from Melky Cabrera, Gordon firing a bullet to first to get Cabrera by a step and end the inning. And then, Gordon probably saved another run in the eighth with a sliding catch, in shallow left field and with his back to the infield, to take a bloop single away from Aubrey Huff and end the inning.
Timely offense. With runners on second and third, one out and the Dodgers trailing by a run in the fourth, A.J. Ellis worked Tim Lincecum for a seven-pitch walk, during which he twice laid off the two-strike slider in the dirt Lincecum already had used to get several of his seven strikeouts to that point. Tony Gwynn, pinch hitting for Billingsley, followed that with a three-run triple to put the Dodgers ahead.
Unofficial error. With Giants runners on first and third and two outs in the second, Lincecum hit a bouncer into the hole at short. Gordon scooped it up in plenty of time to throw out Lincecum at first and end the inning, but Gordon didn't get the throw off in time. Instead, he double-clutched, Lincecum was safe, and Arias crossed the plate with the game's first run. Gordon wasn't charged with an error, meaning Billingsley was charged with an earned run, but the Dodgers might not have been in that situation if Billingsley hadn't already thrown 28 pitches in the inning to that point and 45 for the game.
And speaking of ... . Billingsley continued his career-long battle against throwing too many pitches outside the strike zone and too many pitches period. By the time Billingsley had just issued his fourth walk and fallen behind in the count to another hitter with two outs in the fourth inning, Wright already was warming up in the Dodgers bullpen. Billingsley was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of that inning. By that time, he had thrown 85 pitches.
Offensive struggles. Gordon, who actually came in with an eight-game hitting streak, continued what has been a season-long struggle at the plate. He struck out in his first at-bat, grounded into a rare double play in the third inning and, with a runner on third and less than two outs in the fourth, hit a pop fly to shallow right that even the speedy Gwynn had no chance to score on -- this after starting the at-bat by trying to bunt for a base hit against a drawn-in Giants infield. Fortunately, Gordon fouled off that pitch.