Chad Billingsley finally has the chance to continue the success he enjoyed before an elbow injury prematurely ended his 2012 season.
Billingsley went 10-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 25 starts a year ago, and was 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven before his season ended in August due to a partially torn ligament in his right elbow.
While Billingsley was able to avoid surgery, his return this spring was slowed by a bruised index finger suffered during a bunting drill March 15.
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly apparently feels Billingsley is ready to return despite allowing seven runs in 7 2-3 innings during spring training and four runs with three walks during a minor league rehab stint last week.
The biggest positive, however, is that the finger feels fine.
"It went well. I accomplished everything I needed to get ready for my next start," Billingsley told the Dodgers' official website. "I've got no issues with the finger. I'm anxious to get back out there, compete and win some ballgames."
He allowed three hits and struck out 11 in 8 1-3 innings of a 6-0 road win in his only start versus San Diego in 2012. Billingsley has yielded two earned runs and 11 hits over 21 1-3 innings while winning two of his last three against the Padres.
While Los Angeles (4-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped, San Diego (2-5) ended a three-game slide with a 9-3 victory Tuesday. Will Venable homered and hit a bases-loaded triple for the Padres, who broke open a one-run game by scoring five times in the eighth inning of its opener at a less spacious Petco Park.
San Diego had been outscored 40-14 on a 1-5 road trip to begin the season.
"We didn't play well on the trip. But our guys have a lot of resolve to play well," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Venable, 2 for 15 with no RBIs on the trip, is 4 for 8 in his last three games versus Los Angeles.
Former Dodger Eric Stults looks to build on a victorious season debut when he takes the mound for the Padres. The left-hander allowed three hits and struck out seven in five scoreless innings of Thursday's 2-1 win over the New York Mets .
Stults, 8-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 starts last season after the Padres claimed him off waivers from the White Sox, is finally getting the chance to be a regular in a major league rotation.
"Years past, I might get four, five starts and then get sent back down to the minor leagues and then come back up. I was always bouncing back and forth," he said. "When I was bouncing back and forth, I might go six days and not pitch or seven days. And there was days I was pitching on short rest, when I would get called up. So not that that's an excuse, but it's I think a little bit tougher as a starting pitcher when your routine gets thrown off."
In his only start against a Dodger club with which he broke into the majors in 2006, Stults gave up a solo homer to Andre Ethier and six other hits over six innings of a 6-3, 11-inning win Sept. 4.
Stults has never faced Los Angeles' Carl Crawford , who is 11 for 24 (.458) on the season.
Teammate Adrian Gonzalez is 9 for 14 with six RBIs in four games after going 1 for 9 in the first three.
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|March 28, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder labrum surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right index finger contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right index finger contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, right thumb|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Elbert||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 21, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament, right thumb|
|San Diego Padres|
|April 09, 2013||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|March 30, 2013||Cory Luebke||60-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 30, 2013||Casey Kelly||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery, out for season|
|March 27, 2013||Logan Forsythe||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis, right foot|
|March 22, 2013||Chase Headley||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|March 22, 2013||James Darnell||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After floundering in Boston in 2011 and playing only 31 games last year due to injuries, Carl Crawford is off to the fast start he knew he needed to have with the Los Angeles Dodgers .
Crawford led off with an opposite-field homer and A.J. Ellis added a two-run shot to back Chad Billingsley 's strong season debut and lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-3 victory against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
Crawford homered to left field on the second pitch from Eric Stults (1-1). He tripled off the left-field wall with one out in the fifth and scored on Mark Ellis ' single through a drawn-in infield to make it 4-1.
"I just want to play baseball," said Crawford, who came over from the Red Sox along with Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett on Aug. 25. "That's all I want to do, man. I'm not trying to prove nothing to me, you, Boston, whoever. I just want to play good baseball this year."
Crawford had reconstructive elbow surgery two days before the trade and didn't get to play for the Dodgers last year.
He's hitting .464 (13 of 28). This was Crawford's fourth consecutive game with multiple hits and his sixth in seven starts this season.
"You never know how it's going to go. You hope for the best," he said. "The last two years the way things were going for me it's kind of a surprise, but a good surprise. It's definitely fun. Even if I wouldn't have had a fast start like I'm having now, everything is just good for me right now."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he certainly didn't expect Crawford to hit this well at the start of the season.
"I've seen how good Carl has been in the past and the last two years have been spotty as far as injuries and things like that, but I think we pretty much knew what he could do," Mattingly said.
Billingsley (1-0) opened the season on the disabled list after bruising his right index finger during a bunting drill on March 15. He held San Diego to one run and five hits in six innings, with three strikeouts and three walks.
"It definitely felt great to be back out there," said Billingsley, who went on the disabled list Aug. 25 last year with pain in his right elbow. "C.C., the first at-bat of the game, he gets us a one-run lead and gave me a little cushion early."
Billingsley "was sharp with his fastball," San Diego's Yonder Alonso said. "He was controlling the strike zone early in the game. He was throwing to both sides and did a good job of keeping the ball down."
A.J. Ellis homered to left with one out in the second. Luis Cruz was aboard on a single.
Brandon League earned his third save in as many chances, but only after allowing two runs on three hits in the ninth. The second run that inning scored when Chris Denorfia struck out but reached on a passed ball by A.J. Ellis.
The Padres have given up 13 homers in eight games.
"Eric hung in there but they didn't miss with a couple of mistakes," Padres manager Bud Black said.
San Diego's Nick Hundley had four hits to tie his career high.
Stults allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, struck out four and walked none. Every Dodgers regular except Adrian Gonzalez had at least one hit off Stults.
Billingsley's only rough inning was the fourth. Will Venable drew a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI double by Denorfia. Yonder Alonso walked but was erased on a double play and Alexi Amarista flied out to end the inning.
Denorfia started in place of left fielder Carlos Quentin , who was hit by a pitch on the right forearm in San Diego's 9-3 win Tuesday.
NOTES: Black said Quentin was still a little sore Wednesday. ... After sitting out the last two games, Cruz singled in the second to snap an 0-for-17 slump to start the season. ... Andre Ethier has a hit in his first seven games this season to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Padres 3B Chase Headley took batting practice for the first time since breaking his left thumb in a spring game on March 17. He said he felt no pain. Headley will likely go on a rehab assignment in the minors before being activated. ... The series concludes Thursday night when Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (1-0, 0.00 ERA) faces RHP Jason Marquis (0-1, 3.00). ... Black had Mark Kotsay pinch-hit for 2B Alexi Amarista in the eighth. Kotsay remained in the game at 1B, forcing Black to move Alonso to 2B in the top of the ninth. After Gonzalez singled to right past the diving Alonso, he and 3B Jedd Gyorko swapped positions. They switched back after Ethier was hit by a pitch to load the bases.