Los Angeles Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley lost five straight starts from June 16-July 7, but has rebounded quite nicely.
Billingsley gets the nod for the Dodgers this afternoon in the finale of a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves and is 5-0 with a 1.35 earned run average in his previous five starts. He tossed eight shutout innings and scattered five hits in an 11-0 blasting of Pittsburgh on Tuesday, pushing his record to an even 9-9 in 23 starts with a 3.62 ERA.
The right-hander is 6-5 in 12 road outings this season and just 1-3 with a 3.67 ERA in nine career games (7 starts) against the Braves.
Los Angeles ended a two-game slide and won for the 10th time in 15 tries with Saturday's 6-2 victory at Turner Field in the Civil Rights Game. Hanley Ramirez homered twice and both James Loney and Luis Cruz went deep for Los Angeles, which remained one-half game behind San Francisco for the NL West lead and one-half game off the Wild Card. Cruz reached base in all five plate appearances on Friday.
Ramirez, who ended with four RBI, is batting .330 with four homers and 27 runs batted in through 23 games since joining the Dodgers via trade from Miami last month. He also posted his fifth straight multi-hit game.
"I've been seeing the ball better and swinging at strikes, so that's the key," Ramirez said.
The Dodgers are 6-3 on a 10-game road trip and will host the Giants and Marlins when they return to Chavez Ravine.
Aaron Harang got the win last night for the Dodgers by holding the Braves to a run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts. He did walk five batters, but was bailed out by the offense.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was slapped with a fine and two-game suspension for his excessive arguing in the top of the second inning in Thursday's game at Pittsburgh. Sunday marks the second game of the penalty.
"I just didn't understand why, but today I understand," Mattingly said on the club's website. "It said I have to keep my guys under control before I make my argument."
Atlanta had won four straight and seven of nine games, but starting pitcher Ben Sheets dropped another decision after yielding all six runs and four homers in six innings.
"I went through a stretch where I just didn't make a pitch there," Sheets said. "The difference of a good game and a bad game is that Hanley Ramirez at- bat. The good ones you make one pitch and get out of it. The other ones, he hits it into the seats."
Martin Prado went 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI for Atlanta, which is still four games behind Washington for NL East bragging rights and leads the Wild Card. The Braves are 4-2 on a seven-game homestand and will begin a 10- game road trip Monday against the Nationals, Giants and Padres.
Braves catcher Brian McCann hasn't played the last two games due to a balky right shoulder, but could return this afternoon. He has 18 homers and 57 RBI this season.
"[The shoulder is] not 100 percent, but who is 100 percent at this time of the year?" Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday on the team's website. "He'll be in there tomorrow."
Mike Minor will pitch for Atlanta today and is 1-3 with a 2.56 earned run average in his last five starts. He dropped his second outing in a row in a 4-1 loss to San Diego on Monday, as he was reached for three runs and nine hits in six innings.
Minor, who is 6-9 with a 4.93 ERA in 22 starts, has no record and a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.
The Braves, who squeezed out a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Friday, have won three of the five meetings with L.A. this season.