"Billingsley was terrific," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He had complete command the whole game. That was a good win for us, especially with the way we've been struggling."
The Dodgers are just 2-5 on their current nine-game road trip and haven't won a game since beating the Padres, 7-2, on June 10. They've struggled to score runs, blown leads while on the cusp of victory and lost two members of their rotation in a matter of five days.
The last time the Dodgers won a series was May 19-21, when they swept the Reds.
Billingsley's luck hasn't been much better. A victim of no run support on several occasions, he's winless in his last five starts since notching a win over the Reds on May 21.
But with his parents and several other family members watching after making the 170-mile trip from Defiance, Billingsley (5-7) finally got over the hump.
"It's been a rough stretch here for the past couple weeks," Billingsley said. "All the pitches were working well. They didn't really have any hard-hit balls off me -- they just found holes. It was a matter of staying within myself and trying not to do too much."
He gave up a leadoff single and a walk to start the game, but was solid from then on until things got rocky in the seventh. He struck out six batters in the first three innings and nine in the game, including three in the third when he gave up a leadoff base hit before striking out the side.
"That was big," Torre said of Billingsley's performance. "Somebody's going to have to pick us up. Before I came on here, I heard a lot of good things about Billingsley, and I've been seeing that.
"In Spring Training, he wasn't too good. But once he sort of hit his stride, you could see the leadership qualities and the take-charge type qualities that he has. And tonight, especially here where I'm sure he had a lot of family, it was a great game for him."
Billingsley exited in the seventh when he gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Edwin Encarnacion and Joey Votto before walking Paul Bako to load the bases.
In came reliever Joe Beimel, who got Javier Valentin to ground out to first. Encarnacion scored from third to pull Cincinnati within 2-1, but Beimel got Corey Patterson to ground out to short and end the inning in the next at-bat.
"Joe did the job," Torre said. "That was a possible double-play ball, and James [Loney] got the one out. He doesn't melt. Joe Beimel -- he comes in and might fall behind, 2-0, but he knows exactly what he wants to do. He's been terrific for us this year."
Blake DeWitt knocked a one-out single in the eighth and scored when Jeff Kent doubled into the left-field corner. Reds left fielder Adam Dunn had difficulty fielding the ball, which allowed DeWitt to score from first and Kent to advance to third on the throw.
Russell Martin walked in the next at-bat to put runners at the corners with one out before Loney grounded into a double play.
The Reds threatened in the eighth when Brandon Phillips and Dunn both walked with two outs, but Jonathan Broxton got Encarnacion to fly out to center and end the inning.
Takashi Saito gave up a leadoff single to Votto in the bottom of the ninth, but struck out Ken Griffey Jr. and David Ross before sealing his ninth save of the season when he got Patterson to ground out.
"It has been hard because save opportunities have been few," Saito said through translation from traveling secretary Scot Akasaki. "But I think that's something you think about before the game. Once you get on the mound, you have to concentrate on the batter in front of you and getting him out."
Johnny Cueto (5-7) took the loss for the Reds, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
The Dodgers, who have averaged slightly more than three runs per game on their road trip, scored first on Juan Pierre's two-out double in the third. Kent, who went 3-for-4, singled to lead off the fourth and scored on a double by Martin to make it 2-0.
The Dodgers added an insurance run in the eighth on Kent's one-out RBI double.