Billingsley drops fourth straight start to Reds

Billingsley drops fourth straight start to Reds

Billingsley drops fourth straight start to Reds
LOS ANGELES -- After a momentary flashback Sunday to the glory days of April and May, the Dodgers relapsed into their summer funk Monday night.

Third baseman Juan Uribe was hurt again (right ankle sprain) and the Dodgers lost again, 8-2, to the Reds, the club's eighth defeat in nine games and 12th in the last 14. At the 81-game halfway mark of the season, they trail the Giants by 1 1/2 games.

With Matt Kemp starting his rehab assignment Tuesday night, Mark Ellis halfway done with his and Andre Ethier healing from an oblique strain but still not playing, the Dodgers are just trying to limp to the All-Star break, but it could be a long week.

Chad Billingsley was given a 2-0 lead and pitched five scoreless innings before giving it up in a three-run sixth for his fourth consecutive loss. He's now 4-8.

To what extent Billingsley's beaning of Reds shortstop Zack Cozart with two outs in the fifth had on the pitcher's psyche is open for debate. Struck on the helmet by an 89-mph fastball, Cozart went down grabbing his head with both hands before walking off the field with a mild concussion. Billingsley was asked if he was rattled by the beaning.

"No," Billingsley said. "I was trying to throw a two-seamer and it got away from me. Definitely not the outcome I wanted."

"I'm not sure," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "I kind of felt, it seemed like after that he didn't seem the same. He had been really good, aggressive, and I felt like it shook him up a bit. It seemed to bother him a little. Understandably. We know Chad well enough to know he'd never do that [intentionally]."

If the Dodgers are looking for silver linings in this cumulonimbus cloud hovering above, it would be Jerry Hairston and James Loney. With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Hairston took Homer Bailey deep, a historic home run of sorts because the Dodgers hadn't hit one in nine games, 80 innings or 343 plate appearances.

Loney, meanwhile, had two hits after an RBI double on Sunday. Could it be a repeat of last year's second-half surge for the first baseman that Mattingly has described as "an enigma"?

"We hope," Mattingly said. "We've been through this three or four years with James."

And the Dodgers have been through a series of injuries with Uribe in his 1 1/2 years as a Dodger. The ankle is the latest, sustained as he made a baserunning error in the second inning. Uribe wasn't watching third-base coach Tim Wallach hold up Loney at third on Scott Van Slyke's bloop single. Uribe was cut down overrunning second on the play and turned his ankle trying to stop.

He tried to continue playing, but came out three innings later and was limping after the game. The ankle was swollen and painful in a spot Uribe said was different than where he underwent surgery several years ago.

With runners on the corners and one out instead of bases loaded and no outs in the second, the Dodgers salvaged a run on a sacrifice fly by Luis Cruz, making his first plate appearance as a Dodger after being called up earlier in the day and starting in place of shortstop Dee Gordon.

After Brandon Phillips led off the sixth inning with a double, Jay Bruce defeated the Dodgers' defensive shift with a single through shortstop to put runners on the corners with no outs. Todd Frazier singled home Phillips. Chris Heisey's groundout moved the runners up and Miguel Cairo bounced to Adam Kennedy (having just replaced Uribe), who threw out Bruce at the plate for the second out.

But Billingsley threw a 3-2 slider to No. 8 hitter Devin Mesoraco, hitting .196 at the time, and he bounced it inside third and into the corner for a two-run double and a 3-2 Reds lead.

"Going into the sixth inning, I felt fine," said Billingsley. "Brandon Phillips hit a good slider down and away. Jay Bruce found the hole and a broken-bat single, you can't do anything about it. I was just making pitches."

"He kind of hung a breaking ball with two strikes," Mesoraco said. "I got enough to get it down there in the corner and score that guy from first. Give him credit. He was pretty tough tonight and I think if he could have taken that pitch back, I'm sure he would have. It was a breaking ball up in the zone. I did, I guess, what I was supposed to do."

Cruz nearly tied the game in the seventh with two outs and a runner on second base, sending a line drive toward the right-field corner, only for Bruce to make a nice running catch on a ball more difficult than the one he botched in Sunday's Reds loss to the Giants.

"They did a good job early in the game," said Bailey, who struck out seven over eight innings to improve to 6-6. "There were so many guys in that lineup we really didn't know. You don't have Kemp in there. You don't have Ethier. These are guys we don't have much experience with. A lot of times, even with all the advanced scouting we have, you go with your strengths. We were able to be successful tonight." 

The Reds extended their lead in the eighth off Todd Coffey with a hit batter, a wild pitch, an RBI triple by Frazier and an RBI single by Mesoraco.

Jamey Wright made a throwing error that led to three unearned runs in the ninth.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.