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Dodgers Power Up Their Offense

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It is amazing how facing a pitcher with a 16.20 ERA can jump start an offense. Home runs by Andre Ethier and James Loney helped propel the Dodgers to a 6-2 win breaking a five game losing streak.

Things didn’t start smoothly for Chad Billingsley who gave up a ground-rule double on his first pitch to Akinori Iwamura. After an infield pop up to Andy LaRoche, Andrew McCutchen doubled to bring in Iwamura. After walking Garrett Jones, a visit by pitching coach Rick Honeycutt refocused Billingsley. He got Ryan Church to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Xavier Paul, inserted in the lineup with Torre “just trying to find somebody at the top to give us a spark,” as he put it before the game, led off the home half of the first with a single. Paul stole second when Russell Martin struck out swinging, however strangely Pirates’ catcher Ryan Doumit threw the ball back to the pitcher Charlie Morton rather than the second baseman Iwamura.

Andre Ethier got the offense kick started hitting his sixth homer of the season giving the Dodgers the 2-1 lead.

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In the third inning the Pirates defense demonstrated they are not as sharp as last season. After leading the Major Leagues in field percentage and committing the few errors last season, fielding errors by shortstop Bobby Crosby and first baseman Jeff Clement allowed runners on first and second base.

While he had to wait until May 13 to hit his first homer last season and September 19 to hit his only homer at home, James Loney got both taken care of in one swing on a fly ball that squeaked into the right field box seats on the fair side of the foul pole to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead.

“I just saw it up and reacted to it,” Loney said of the pitch he hit not knowing it was going to go out. “I was hoping a fan wouldn’t reach out and make it fan interference.”

Billingsley gave up a run in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles to Ryan Church and Doumit, however the Dodgers got the run back in the sixth inning on Ronnie Belliard’s pinch hit sacrifice fly to center to give the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.

But overall Billingsley had his second consecutive good outing pitching six innings giving up two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four.

“I thought he pitched fine,” Torre said. “He got himself a victory. He pitched out of some jams which is important.”

“I went after guys, stayed aggressive and mixed in the off-speed,” Billingsley said of his outing. “I tried to keep the hitters off balance.”

Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen however wanted to prove that the Pirates could still make some spectacular plays diving and stretching out to catch a sinking fly ball and steal a base hit from Paul.

The wind didn’t seem to play a factor to start the game but it really started to pick up in the late innings especially in the eighth inning when a McCutchen fly ball to right field kept tailing away from Ethier towards the baseline. Ethier made a spectacular diving catch to keep the pressure off the bullpen.

“I thought Ethier made an amazing play because the wind kept carrying the ball away from him in right field,” Torre said.

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For the second consecutive game, the relievers Ronald Belisario, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton combined to shut out the Pirates giving up only a single while striking out three.

But most importantly the Dodgers finally get a win.

“It feels good to get this win,” Torre said. “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing. We want to get something on the good side especially at home.”

“It feels good,” Loney added. “Anytime you can snap something like that, get people to talk about something else hopefully.”

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