Dodgers cut Giants' division lead to one game

Dodgers cut Giants' division lead to one game

Dodgers cut Giants' division lead to one game
SAN FRANCISCO -- In the past 24 hours, the Dodgers parlayed the five tools of Hanley Ramirez and the five tools of Matt Kemp.

Don Mattingly can do the math and it comes out like this: five plus five equals two great players.

"With that deal, you got another Matt Kemp," the manager said of this week's trade after his Dodgers combined Ramirez's three RBIs, Kemp's four RBIs and a four-hitter for 7 1/3 scoreless innings from Chad Billingsley for Saturday's 10-0 blowout of the Giants, whose division lead over the Dodgers was halved to one game.

It was the Dodgers' biggest shutout win at AT&T Park and Billingsley's first win there since 2007.

With Ramirez protecting him in a juggled batting order, Kemp had four hits, including his 15th home run to start the scoring and a pair of RBI doubles, and scored three runs. Losing pitcher Barry Zito said Kemp hit "a pitcher's pitch" on the home run.

Ramirez was one of four Dodgers with a pair of hits and ignited teammates in the dugout by unleashing his breakaway speed in the sixth inning to score from first base on Jerry Hairston's flare double to right, blasting through third-base coach Tim Wallach's stop sign.

"Maybe he doesn't understand the stop sign," joked Mattingly. "He got rolling and it's hard to stop. Maybe they had a different sign in Miami."

Ramirez said it was none of that. He saw the sign, but also saw where the ball was and where he was and knew how fast he is.

"Instinct," he said.

There was no plate collision, as Giants catcher Buster Posey gave up position as instructed by management after he missed most of last season with a collision-induced leg injury.

"I always slide around him," said Ramirez. "I don't want to get hurt either."

Only one Dodger was injured in the rout, Andre Ethier, who was shaken but escaped serious injury in the seventh inning when he caught Melky Cabrera's drive and slammed into the iron fencing in right field. Ethier's spike landed on the cement base and he slipped, twisting his left knee and landing on his tailbone. He left the game at the end of the inning, but said he was feeling better by the time he left the clubhouse.

The last time the Dodgers were in San Francisco, they not only didn't win, they didn't score.

"This is a brand-new team," said Kemp, who was on the disabled list when the Dodgers visited a month ago, along with Mark Ellis, while Ethier was injured in that series finale. "We've got our old team back, and Hanley on top of it.

"The dude can hit. He's got a pretty swing, one of my favorite players for years and now in my lineup. He'll help this team win games, as you can see."

Kemp came into the game batting .449 lifetime off Zito and now has eight home runs in 53 at-bats against left-handed pitching this year. He also came into this game off a 2-for-16 series in St. Louis with seven strikeouts.

Billingsley said he's feeling fine, but he insists his 15-day freshening on the disabled list and the two victories that have followed are unrelated.

The staff isn't so sure.

"When he's able to force them to swing the bats, obviously his command is pretty good," Mattingly said of Billingsley, who threw 105 pitches without a walk. "Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] said during the game [the time off] was probably the best thing for him, to give him two weeks instead of grinding through it. But Rick said in his [Billingsley's] mind, there was nothing wrong. At the end of the day, it was a good thing for him, it looks like."

Catcher A.J. Ellis, who homered and doubled, said the key for Billingsley was staying ahead in the count and using his fastball on both sides of the plate, especially inside to left-handed hitters.

"When Chad is locked in and throwing the way he's capable of, he's as good as anybody in the National League," said Ellis.

Luis Cruz, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games with a second-inning double, started a fifth-inning rally with a leadoff single and was doubled to third by Ellis. The hitting streak is the longest for a Dodger this year.

There nearly was a Dodgers-Giants rivalry moment in the ninth inning when former Dodger Brad Penny, pitching mopup for the Giants, got into it with James Loney, as Penny stepped off the mound and Loney stepped out of the box. Loney eventually bounced out, he and Penny had words, Penny threw an inside pitch to the next batter, Mark Ellis, and everybody in both dugouts went to the top step. But there were no further incidents.

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