Chad Billingsley finally has the chance to continue the success he enjoyed before an elbow injury prematurely ended his 2012 season.
The veteran right-hander will come off the disabled list trying to help the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers even their road set with the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
Billingsley went 10-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 25 starts a year ago, and was 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven before his season ended in August due to a partially torn ligament in his right elbow.
While Billingsley was able to avoid surgery, his return this spring was slowed by a bruised index finger suffered during a bunting drill March 15.
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly apparently feels Billingsley is ready to return despite allowing seven runs in 7 2-3 innings during spring training and four runs with three walks during a minor league rehab stint last week.
The biggest positive, however, is that the finger feels fine.
"It went well. I accomplished everything I needed to get ready for my next start," Billingsley told the Dodgers' official website. "I've got no issues with the finger. I'm anxious to get back out there, compete and win some ballgames."
He allowed three hits and struck out 11 in 8 1-3 innings of a 6-0 road win in his only start versus San Diego in 2012. Billingsley has yielded two earned runs and 11 hits over 21 1-3 innings while winning two of his last three against the Padres.
While Los Angeles (4-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped, San Diego (2-5) ended a three-game slide with a 9-3 victory Tuesday. Will Venable homered and hit a bases-loaded triple for the Padres, who broke open a one-run game by scoring five times in the eighth inning of its opener at a less spacious Petco Park.
San Diego had been outscored 40-14 on a 1-5 road trip to begin the season.
"We didn't play well on the trip. But our guys have a lot of resolve to play well," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Venable, 2 for 15 with no RBIs on the trip, is 4 for 8 in his last three games versus Los Angeles.
Former Dodger Eric Stults looks to build on a victorious season debut when he takes the mound for the Padres. The left-hander allowed three hits and struck out seven in five scoreless innings of Thursday's 2-1 win over the New York Mets.
Stults, 8-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 starts last season after the Padres claimed him off waivers from the White Sox, is finally getting the chance to be a regular in a major league rotation.
"Years past, I might get four, five starts and then get sent back down to the minor leagues and then come back up. I was always bouncing back and forth," he said. "When I was bouncing back and forth, I might go six days and not pitch or seven days. And there was days I was pitching on short rest, when I would get called up. So not that that's an excuse, but it's I think a little bit tougher as a starting pitcher when your routine gets thrown off."
In his only start against a Dodger club with which he broke into the majors in 2006, Stults gave up a solo homer to Andre Ethier and six other hits over six innings of a 6-3, 11-inning win Sept. 4.
Stults has never faced Los Angeles' Carl Crawford, who is 11 for 24 (.458) on the season.
Teammate Adrian Gonzalez is 9 for 14 with six RBIs in four games after going 1 for 9 in the first three.
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