DENVER (AP) - As Los Angeles pitcher Chad Billingsley dressed at his locker Sunday, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt came up behind him, gave him a job-well-done pat on the shoulder and silently walked away.
Even though the Dodgers lost 5-3 to the Colorado Rockies, Billingsley gave the Dodgers what they needed. He went deep in the game and pitched well after the Dodgers used their entire seven-man bullpen to pitch eight innings Saturday while losing 7-6 in 13 innings.
Things were so dire that first baseman James Loney, who went 4 for 4 with a double and a home run, threw a pregame bullpen session in case the Dodgers needed a pitcher Sunday.
The victory broke the Rockies' major league-record streak of 17 consecutive Sunday losses that began April 17. They are now 3-17 on Sundays this season.
Billingsley (10-10) pitched 7 2-3 innings, his longest outing since he pitched a season-high eight innings for the fourth time July 3, and gave up just three hits. But he surrendered two-run homers to Carlos Gonzalez in the first and Seth Smith in the seventh, the latter hit coming after a walk and putting the Rockies ahead 4-3.
``I was able to get a good rhythm,' Billingsley said, ``just good rhythm, good tempo out there and was able to carry it on. I had good fastball command. It was moving around the zone, in and out, and the changeup was working real well early. I had a pretty good breaking ball today and just was able to keep them off balance.'
Billingsley issued five walks, one intentional. which matched his season high. But he didn't allow a hit after the first, when Gonzalez homered following Mark Ellis' single, until Smith followed a walk to Jason Giambi in the seventh with his home run.
Billingsley had allowed nine home runs in 151 2-3 innings entering the game and had not given up more than one home run in any of his previous 25 starts. He took the mound having surrendered 70 home runs in 977 1-3 career innings, an average of 0.64 homers allowed per nine innings, which ranked seventh among major league pitchers.
Billingsley said he tried to throw Gonzalez a 2-0 sinker, but ``just kind of got underneath it and the ball stayed up.' Gonzalez lined the pitch into the right-field seats for his 21st home run.
As for the 0-1 pitch that Smith hit an estimated 458 feet into the second deck in right-center, Billingsley said, ``That was a backup cutter, backup slider and it just kind of spun out of my hands and stayed up.'
The instant the pitch left his hand, Billingsley sensed trouble and thought, ``Uh-oh, please take it.'
The Dodgers scored single runs in the second, third and fourth against Kevin Millwood (1-1), who made his third start for the Rockies. Loney's double in the second drove in Los Angeles' first run. Matt Kemp's two-out double in the third tied the game at 2-all, and Loney gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead when he led off the fourth with his sixth homer of the season.
``I think we got to get him to throw more sides before the game, and then we can get his bat to come around,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Loney hit three homers in the two games he played in the series, giving him one more homer at Coors Field this season than at Dodger Stadium. Loney is hitting .262 with six homers and 39 RBIs in 124 games, hardly the desired production from a first baseman.
Asked whether Loney's different pregame routine might have inspired him, Mattingly said, ``I don't know with James. You can never tell. With him, it's always a coin flip; you're not quite sure with him. Four years (here), and I still don't quite know him that well.'
Loney said throwing a bullpen session before the game might have helped him at the plate.
``Maybe it got me a little looser than normal,' he said. ``I don't know. I was sweating pretty good after that. Maybe I honed in on the strike zone more or something. I was really focused when I was out there (in the bullpen).'
Loney said he would love to pitch when Mattingly and Honeycutt felt the bullpen was short and a spare pitching part might be necessary.
Asked whether he could be a left-handed specialist, Loney said, ``I think I can do more. It's going to take hard work, obviously. It's going to be something that you'd have to concentrate, put time in, learn, but I love the game and I love both sides of it. And I think I would have time to devote time enough to do both.'
Which begs one question of Loney, since his bullpen session took place far from view: How was your stuff?
``I'm going to let other people judge that,' Loney said. ``I'm not going to critique my own stuff.'
Loney led off the ninth with a single, but Rafael Betancourt, filling in for injured closer Huston Street, retired the next three batters to earn his second save.
Notes: Kemp went 2 for 4 and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Millwood earned his 160th win. He has allowed six home runs in 20 innings with the Rockies. ... Billingsley lost his second straight start when throwing at least seven innings, something he has done 10 times in 26 starts.
The Associated Press News Service
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