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Dodgers Kick Start Offense Against Reds 8-5

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Putting it politely, the Dodgers have been offensively challenged since the All-Star break. For one night, at least, the Dodgers bucked that trend doing all the kicking of Cincinnati Reds’ starter Johnny Cueto (L, 11-4) by belting four solo homers off of him en route to an 8-5 victory.

“Four home runs - that certainly came out of nowhere,” Torre said. “We knew it was in there somewhere.”

After hitting back-to-back homers only once this season when Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier did it in the first inning in a game against the San Francisco Giants on April 16, the Dodgers did it twice: Ryan Theriot and Ethier in the second inning, and Jay Gibbons and Kemp in the third inning.

“[Cueto] was throwing good fastballs, but I think he was having trouble with his control tonight,” Gibbons said. “We took advantage.”

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Perhaps the threat of Manny Ramirez’s return to the lineup made all the difference.

“It’s nice to have him there,” Torre said. “He gives us more credibility as far as I’m concerned in the middle of the lineup.”

The results: Manny went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. But perhaps his mere presence prompted the offense outburst.

“It’s all about Manny,” Gibbons said. “Manny’s back!”

All of that came after Cueto had a hard time getting out of the first inning making 33 pitches and a bases loaded walk to Casey Blake to give the Dodgers the quick 1-0 lead.

After the five-run disaster in three innings Cueto was done, but the Dodgers didn’t treat reliever Mike Leake any nicer scoring twice in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Casey Blake and an RBI single by Jamey Carroll.

The offensive cavalcade came just in time as the Dodger pitching wasn’t its usual dominant self against the Reds. Dodgers’ starter Chad Billingsley (W, 10-7) had his shortest outing since July 16 going two outs into the sixth inning before getting pulled after he gave up an RBI double to Ramon Hernandez for the Reds’ third run.

“When he covered first base, he had a little tightness in his [right] calf,” Torre said on the play in the second inning on Hernandez’s grounder to first.

That prevented Billingsley from legging out a grounder that shortstop Paul Janish bobbled.

“I didn’t want to walk and have to run the bases,” Billingsley said. “I was swinging, and it turned out worse for me because it was a ball you had to leg out. I didn’t want to break hard and blow out, so I was just careful about doing it.”

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Both Torre and Billingsley said that it shouldn’t affect his next start.

Dodgers’ reliever Travis Schlichting got the final strikeout of the sixth inning but ran into trouble after giving up a single to Brandon Phillips and a walk to Drew Stubbs to lead off the seventh inning. Hong-Chih Kuo came in and gave up an RBI single to Joey Votto and a scoring ground ball to Scott Rolen to cut the Dodgers lead to a very manageable 7-5.

But the Dodgers got a run back in the bottom of the seventh as Blake just beat out the tag on third baseman Scott Rolen’s throw home on Brad Ausmus’ grounder to push the lead to 8-5.

Jonathan Broxton, in his first save situation since he blew a 9-6 lead against the Philadelphia Phillies by giving up four runs in the ninth inning on August 12, retired the side in order for his 22nd save of the season.

“When you go out there with a three run lead and get three guys out, that certainly has to be a good feeling when you’re able to do that.”

Billingsley extended his Major League best homerless streak to 87 innings.