LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley needed this maybe more than the Phillies needed this.
Then again, maybe not. Billingsley enjoyed arguably his best start since recovering from a pair of right elbow surgeries in Tuesday night's 7-2 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Billingsley, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Dodgers, allowed six hits, two runs, one walk and struck out three in six innings against his former team to pick up his first win since April 10, 2013.
"It's been a long road," Billingsley said. "I was pretty excited to be back out there today, being a familiar atmosphere. There were a lot of emotions."
His efforts gave the Phillies' bullpen a rare break. It was just the sixth time in the past 21 games a Phillies starter pitched six innings.
But it also gave Billingsley some positive results following Tommy John surgery in April 2013 and flexor tendon surgery in June 2014, which limited him to just 12 innings the previous two seasons. Billingsley went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his first three starts this season before he landed on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. He returned Thursday against Milwaukee, but allowed 10 hits and seven runs in five innings.
"It's been a long journey and hopefully I've got more to come," Billingsley said about earning the win. "There were times where you're like, 'I don't know if I'm going to ever pitch again.' And like, 'I don't know how my arm's going to feel once I get back to throwing.' I just concentrated on doing my rehab and getting my work in and strengthening up the shoulder and my elbow and here I am today."
The Phillies are desperate for quality starting pitching, so Billingsley pitched well at the right time. He got some help. Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown doubled up Justin Turner at first base for an inning-ending double play in the first. Brown then threw out Yasmani Grandal at third for the first out in the second.
The only mistake Billingsley made came in the sixth when he allowed a two-run homer to Grandal to the cut the lead to 6-2.
"I was so pumped for Chad," said Jeff Francoeur, who went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. "I know how it is, when I went back to Atlanta the first few times and how nervous I was. To think that his whole career was here, so for him to come out and do the things he did tonight was huge."
Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin agreed.
"That was the kind of performance we were hoping to get out of Billingsley," he said. "And it's only his second start since the rehab [assignment], so we're really happy with that. He probably could have gone back out there, but I didn't want anything to spoil a positive outing for him."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.