Everything seems to be going right for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are off to their best start in 31 years.
Following a perfect homestand, Chad Billingsley looks to continue his excellent start as the Dodgers visit the slumping Milwaukee Brewers.
Los Angeles is 9-1 on the season, the club's best beginning to a season since also winning nine of its first 10 games in 1981, the year of the franchise's fifth World Series championship. The Dodgers won three of four to begin the season in San Diego before three-game sweeps of the visiting Pirates and Padres.
It took some luck and clutch hitting to notch a 5-4 victory over the Padres on Sunday. Following the Dodgers' first triple play since 1998 in the top of the ninth inning, Dee Gordon lined a fastball into the outfield with the bases loaded for the walk-off win.
Gordon's heroics came after a bizarre triple play in which San Diego's Jesus Guzman attempted a bunt that hit off his bat as he tried to get away from a high, tight pitch from Javy Guerra. The two runners on base thought the ball was foul and the Dodgers went around the horn to record the three outs.
Clayton Kershaw got the start for Los Angeles and scattered eight hits while allowing four runs -- three earned -- in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked three.
"I didn't have my best stuff, but the way we've been playing we were able to pull it out anyway," said Kershaw. "Our confidence level is very high right now and I think we're going to win a lot more games."
No player may be more confident than Matt Kemp, who homered for the fourth time in three games on Sunday. The outfielder is batting .487 through 10 games with six home runs and 16 runs batted in.
Billingsley should also have plenty of sureness in himself thanks to a 2-0 start that has seen him allow just a run and one walks over 14 1/3 innings with 15 strikeouts. The right-hander tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings to beat the Pirates on April 6, then limited the Pirates to a run over six frames in a a home win on Wednesday.
"I had a good fastball command tonight," said Billingsley. "Everything was pretty good and it's always nice to get ahead of hitters."
Billingsley is off to his first 2-0 start since winning his first four decisions of 2009 and is 2-1 with a 4.54 earned run average in seven games (5 starts) versus the Brewers. The 27-year-old is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts at Miller Park.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, meanwhile, is winless in four career meetings with the Dodgers, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA. He'll look to get that first win tonight and pick up his second straight win of the season.
The 26-year-old righty was tagged for six runs over 3 2/3 innings in a season- debut loss to the Cardinals, but bounced back to beat the Cubs on Wednesday with seven innings of one-run ball. Gallardo also struck out six while walking two.
Gallardo will also try to halt Milwaukee's four-game slide that includes a three-game sweep at the hands of the Braves in Atlanta. The Brewers failed to avoid losing all three games of the series with Sunday's 7-4 defeat.
Chris Narveson gave up five runs on four hits over four innings in the loss. Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI single in the second and a two-run homer in the ninth. Corey Hart added an RBI double in the ninth for the Brewers, who have dropped eight straight at Turner Field.
"Their guys have all pitched well ... the whole series," said Lucroy. "They stayed down in the zone and made pitches when they had to. You have to give credit to them. They all executed in big situations."
Milwaukee begins a nine-game homestand with this contest and is expected to have shortstop Alex Gonzalez back after he missed the past two games to be with his wife, who gave berth to the couple's third child on Sunday.
The Brewers won four of six versus the Dodgers a season ago, taking three of the four played in Milwaukee.