Chad Billingsley didn't seem to miss a beat after an eight-month layoff, and some struggling hitters began to shake off their slumps as the Los Angeles Dodgers held on for a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park Wednesday night.
Making his first regular-season start since Aug. 24, 2012, Billingsley held the Padres to a run and five hits through six innings. His return to the rotation could give the Dodgers a formidable staff. They have Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw lined up to pitch the next two games.
The engine of the Dodgers' scoring continued to be Carl Crawford, who hit the second pitch of the game for a home run and later added a triple off the top of the left-field wall. Crawford, in his first season with the Dodgers after two trying years in Boston, is batting .464 and has scored eight of the team's 24 runs.
Just a few months ago, the Dodgers didn't know whether they could count on Billingsley this season. He spent two stints on the disabled list last season because of a sprained right elbow. One option on the table was Tommy John surgery. Instead, Billingsley elected to rehab the injury and he has had few signs of trouble so far. He hit 92 mph several times Wednesday and, at times, employed a good curveball.
Billingsley, who went 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his final seven starts of 2012, began this season on the disabled list because of a bruised finger, an injury he sustained near the end of spring training.
The Dodgers' bullpen, which had been nearly perfect before getting roughed up Tuesday, had some wobbly moments. Closer Brandon League gave up two runs and three hits in the ninth. The Padres also scored a run on A.J. Ellis' passed ball that, had he caught it, would have ended the game. League got Yonder Alonso to fly out, with the tying run on second, to end it.