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Dodgers Get Contributions from Everybody

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The Dodgers got a little contribution from everyone in their 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Seven players scored the seven runs with seven players driving in those runs. Everyone in the starting lineup got a hit with rightfielder Andre Ethier and second baseman Orlando Hudson going 3-for-4 with a run each and an RBI each.

“It was a big game for us for a lot of reason,” manager Joe Torre said of the win. “Winning a ballgame for one, and of course getting [Chad] Billingsley back in the swing of things.”

Billingsley pitched six strong innings giving up only two earned runs on three hits in his first start since tweaking his right hamstring on August 7.

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“It felt great to get back out there,” Billingsley said. “We played really well as a team.”

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when with one out Russell Martin lined a double just over the head of a back-pedaling centerfielder Rick Ankiel. That double broke Martin’s 10-game stretch without an extra-base hit.

Hudson grounded a single to leftfield on the next pitch sending Martin to third. Billingsley then drew first blood blooping a single to right-center scoring Martin.

The singles party continued in the inning when Furcal grounded a single through the hole at second scoring Hudson giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Juan Pierre would end the inning lining out to rightfielder Ryan Ludwick while Billingsley halfway to third got doubled off of second.

“He got a little frisky running on Juan Pierre’s ball,” Torre said, “which I don’t know what the hell he was doing. But so be it.”

“I was kind of taking it easy when I was on the bases,” Billingsley explained. “[First base coach Mariano] Duncan and [third base coach Larry] Bowa were telling me to take it easy and don’t run hard.”

Though Billingsley might have been lax on the basepads offensively the Dodgers didn’t let up on starter Mitchell Boggs when Ethier led off the fifth inning with a triple. Manny scored Ethier by lining a single to right-center giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. After Blake singled to left-center, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa pulled Boggs in favor of reliever Jason Motte. It was no problem for Loney who singled up the middle to score Manny from second and advancing Blake to second. After Martin hit into a double play sending Blake to third, Hudson hit a single to rightfield scoring Blake. Billingsley struck out to end the scoring threat, but the damage was done with the Dodgers leading 5-0.

Through five innings Billingsley was in full control of the game retiring every batter with the exception of a Rick Ankiel single in the second inning. In the sixth inning however Billingsley started to have problems as is the pattern throughout the season.

Billingsley hit catcher Jason LaRue with a pitch and gave up a double to pinch hitter Joe Thurston and a single to Brendan Ryan allowing the Cardinals to cut the lead 5-2. However Billingsley would get out of the inning by getting slugger Albert Pujols to ground into a double play.

After the Cardinals brought the game to 5-3 in the top of the seventh, the Dodgers managed to get a run back in the bottom half of the inning when after Loney walked with two outs Martin hit a double down the leftfield line. Loney slid home and barely touched home plate before catcher Jason LaRue could make the tag giving the Dodgers a 6-3 lead.

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“I knew I was safe,” Loney said.

In the bottom of the eighth Pierre and Ethier hit back-to-back doubles to score the final run.

“We still got to win games,” Hudson said of the win. “We still have to play Dodger baseball. It’s not getting any easier.”

A crucial moment of the game came in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on first with two outs Pujols came to bat. Torre brought in closer Jonathan Broxton who proceeded to get Pujols to ground sharply to third base.

“I just wanted to go after him hard,” Broxton meekly said.

“He came in and got a big out,” Torre said of Broxton’s face off with Pujols. “We didn’t want this thing to get out of hand. This game was very important to us.”

With the win the Dodgers improved to 994-993 in the all-time series against the Cardinals. Also the Dodgers remain 4 ½ games ahead of the Colorado Rockies in the NL West thanks to their 4-3 win against the Washington Nationals.