Dodgers set franchise record for best home winning streak to begin a season

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have been in business since 1890, and they never won their first 10 home games -- until now.

Chad Billingsley completed seven innings for the third straight start, Orlando Hudson drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and Los Angeles set a club record Sunday with a 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.

"It's great. I don't think I've ever done that," said Hudson, who set the tone for this streak by hitting for the cycle in the home opener. "It couldn't have happened to me in Toronto because we had to face Boston and New York so much, and I don't think we did it in Arizona because we had to face the Dodgers a lot. So it definitely feels great."

The 10-0 start at Chavez Ravine eclipsed the mark set at Ebbets Field by the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers, when current manager Joe Torre was 5 years old and growing up on Avenue T in the Marine Park section of the borough.

"We're supposed to win at home. This is our field," Billingsley said. "When you're sitting on the bench, you can see the intensity of the crowd. That makes a huge difference for us."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this streak is the longest by any NL team since 1983, when Torre's Atlanta Braves won their first 10 games at Fulton County Stadium to tie the modern league record shared by the 1918 New York Giants and 1970 Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers are a major league-best 18-8 overall, their best start since 1984.

"You can't win a lot of games without getting some breaks," Torre said. "We've gotten some key hits. As beat up as our pitching staff is, guys have been stepping up."

Billingsley (5-0) allowed two runs and four hits, struck out eight and walked four. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out Nick Hundley on three pitches, and hit an RBI single during the Dodgers' four-run sixth.

"Today was a heck of a commentary for him," Torre said. "I mean, he gets the base hit, runs the bases and then comes out and strikes out two in the seventh. He's been a bull, no question. Even if he's a little tired, he's our best option, and he never wants to give the ball up. We've taken him out of some games that he's wanted to stay in."

Billingsley, pummeled in both of his losses during the NLCS against Philadelphia last year, is 9-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 11 regular-season starts since losing to the Phillies on Aug. 25. The 24-year-old right-hander led the club with 16 victories last season, going 7-1 in his final 12 outings.

The defending NL West champions completed their first four-game sweep of the Padres at home while resting four regulars: catcher Russell Martin, shortstop Rafael Furcal, third baseman Casey Blake and right fielder Manny Ramirez, who had some tightness in his hamstring but was available for pinch-hitting duty.

"The thing that's unique about our bench is that every single of them has been a regular player before. So it doesn't really tail off for us," Torre said. "All the guys that were in the game today that aren't normally starters, they all contributed. It's a good feeling."

Los Angeles scored three runs in the first inning against Chad Gaudin (0-1) in his second start with the Padres. Hudson doubled home the first run before Andre Ethier hit an RBI double and scored on James Loney's single.

"They just came out swinging and ambushed me," Gaudin said. "It had nothing to do with left-handed or right-handed. I'm a firm believer in pitching to contact. That's how I make my living. Some teams are patient and some are aggressive."

Brian Giles and Jody Gerut homered for San Diego.

Gaudin was charged with six runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Juan Pierre greeted Arturo Lopez with an RBI single and Hudson followed with a two-run double for a 7-1 lead.

Game notes
The Dodgers' unbeaten start at home is the longest in the majors since 2003, when the Royals won their first 11 at Kauffman Stadium. The common thread is bench coach Bob Schaefer, who served that same role for manager Tony Pena in Kansas City. ... The 1946 Dodgers went 56-21 at home. That team finished its schedule 96-58 and tied for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat the Bums in baseball's first intraleague playoff to win the NL pennant before topping Boston in the World Series. ... San Diego has lost nine of its last 10 at Dodger Stadium, where the home club is 33-9 since last year's All-Star break.