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News » Rockies-Dodgers Preview 2009-04-18


Rockies-Dodgers Preview 2009-04-18


Rockies-Dodgers Preview 2009-04-18
After losing veterans Derek Lowe and Brad Penny to free agency, the Los Angeles Dodgers were looking for Chad Billingsley to pitch like an ace.

So far, the young right-hander has been up to the task and will look to continue his strong start Saturday when the surging Dodgers play the middle contest of a three-game series with the visiting Colorado Rockies.

With Lowe and Penny in the rotation and Billingsley winning a career-high 16 games, the Dodgers took their third NL West title in five years in 2008. Penny completed a one-year, $5 million deal with Boston on Jan. 9, and Lowe signed a four-year, $60 million contract with Atlanta six days later.

That left the 24-year-old Billingsley as the Dodgers' top remaining pitcher following his 16-11 finish with a career-best 3.14 ERA last season.

"I'm not worried about it," he told the team's official Web site earlier this season. "I take the ball every fifth day and try to give the team a chance to win. We've got a good staff, and we're capable of doing a lot of good things.

Billingsley opened the season by allowing two runs over six innings April 8 in a win over San Diego then followed by giving up one run - and striking out 11 - in seven innings in the team's home opener April 13 against San Francisco.

"I wasn't expecting this," he said following the win over the Giants. "It was great to get out and jump on these guys."

Billingsley's 2-0 mark and 2.08 ERA have also helped make up for the loss of Hiroki Kuroda, who is on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a mild muscle strain in his ribs following the team's season-opening win April 6. Jason Schmidt, expected to be the staff's ace when he was signed in 2006, has endured two injury-plagued seasons and remains on the disabled list.

Billingsley is 1-2 with a 5.30 ERA in eight appearances - six starts - against Colorado, but earned his first win in the previous meeting Sept. 12, giving up two runs over six innings. He hasn't recorded a decision in three home starts versus the Rockies.

The Dodgers will look for a repeat as they try to extend their major league-leading, six-game win streak. In Friday night's series opener, Los Angeles (8-3) kept that streak alive with a four-run seventh as Mark Loretta's single plated the go-ahead run in a 4-3 win.

With a third-inning double, Matt Kemp extended his hitting streak to 11 games, tying St. Louis' Chris Duncan for the longest active streak. Kemp has hit .313 (5-for-16) with two home runs against Rockies scheduled starter Aaron Cook (0-0, 9.72).

Despite a 2-for-5 night, Manny Ramirez continued his homerless streak to start this season and against Colorado. Ramirez's drought has reached 36 at-bats, and the Rockies remain the only team he has never homered against (47 at-bats).

The Dodgers star outfielder is 1-for-8 all-time against Cook, who has spent all eight seasons with Colorado.

After starting last season 6-1 en route to a career-high 16 wins, Cook has allowed nine runs and 14 hits in his first two outings this season. The Rockies' opening-day starter April 6 in Arizona, Cook gave up six runs in 2 1-3 innings.

He is 5-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 18 appearances - 13 starts - against Los Angeles, but went 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA in three outings last season.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

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