PHOENIX (AP) - Just when it seems the Arizona Diamondbacks are on the cusp of falling out of the NL West championship race, they find ways to stay in the picture.
Trevor Cahill pitched seven solid innings to help the Diamondbacks beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday night, and if Arizona (41-43) can win the finale of the four-game series with L.A. on Sunday at home, the Diamondbacks could find themselves four games out of first place heading into the All-Star break.
``I felt pretty good. I'm always trying to go at least seven innings,' Cahill said. ``Everybody in here knows where we want to be and how important these games are.'
Cahill (7-7), traded from Oakland in the offseason, gave up three runs and six hits and improved to 17-1 in his past 22 starts when his team scores three or more runs.
``It was big for him to get through seven innings for us,' Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said of Cahill. ``Just bullpen-wise, we don't want to use everybody. Seven innings just makes (Sunday's) game much better as well.'
Trailing 2-0, Arizona scored three runs in the fifth inning. Gerardo Parra had a two-run double and then scored on Stephen Drew's sacrifice fly. The Diamondbacks added another run in the sixth on Paul Goldschmidt's sacrifice fly.
Parra, the Diamondbacks' fourth outfielder, got some appreciation for his big hit from Gibson.
``He wants to play. When he doesn't play, he's got great enthusiasm on the bench,' Gibson said. ``He's very consistent in his demeanor.'
Chad Billingsley (4-9) lost his fifth straight start and hasn't won since June 10 at Seattle. He allowed four runs on six hits and struck out five in six innings.
``I try to go out there and win a game every day. Left the game and had a chance. Can't do anything about the outcome of the game,' Billingsley said. ``Just go out there and improve my strikeouts to walks and try not to give any free passes.'
J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his 16th save in 19 chances.
The Dodgers cut the lead to 4-3 in the seventh on A.J. Ellis' seventh home run of the season, but Jason Kubel's solo home run in the bottom of the eighth restored the two-run advantage.
``It would be big to win the series, a big momentum boost for the break,' Kubel said.
Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the first on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s two-run homer. It was his fourth of the season.
``We had a good June, but we're trying to regain here,' Gibson said. ``These are big games for us.'
Notes: Gibson said the first three starting pitchers after the All-Star break will be Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders and Cahill. All-Star Wade Miley usually has his turn after Kennedy, but will be rested. ... 2B Aaron Hill was honored by the club before Saturday's game for hitting for the cycle twice in 11 days recently. He was given framed lineup cards from both games, and a bike for his daughter.. Dodgers OF Matt Kemp ended his four-game rehab stint with Class A Rancho Cucamonga Friday night and is scheduled for a pair of games with Triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend. ... Mattingly gave second baseman Mark Ellis a day off Saturday. Ellis had started the past two games only four days removed from returning from the disabled list, but is expected back in the lineup Sunday. ... INF Justin Sellers, on the DL with a back injury, is at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch facility in nearby Glendale, Ariz., going through baseball activities as part of his rehabilitation. He isn't expected to rejoin the club immediately after the All-Star break. ... Billingsley recorded his 1,000th career strikeout when he fanned Cahill in the third inning, and became the 12th Los Angeles Dodger in history to achieve the feat.
The Associated Press News Service
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