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Dodgers tab Billingsley for Game 4

Dodgers tab Billingsley for Game 4

LOS ANGELES -- When Chad Billingsley was named to start a possible Game 4 of the National League Division Series against St. Louis, it didn't come with any contingencies, like having Game 1 starter Randy Wolf prepared to come back on short rest instead if the Dodgers face elimination.

"I don't think so," manager Joe Torre said before Wednesday night's Game 1. "That's why we named Bills ahead of time. I don't want people to think the fourth starter depends on how we did. I think Bills deserves the opportunity."

Billingsley's status has been uncertain for much of September, as he worked his way through a mechanical flaw. He was skipped a start and on Monday was sent to Arizona to throw a simulated game against instructional league hitters. He's winless since Aug. 18, a span of seven starts, although four of them qualify as quality starts.

Torre said he was satisfied from reports that Billingsley's pitching is ready for the assignment and believes Billingsley's psyche is back where it needs to be.

Chad Billingsley's playoff history
Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley has always been at his postseason best in the Division Series, tailing off during the Championship Series.
Billingsley in Division Series
1-0, 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings
3 games, 1 start
6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Billingsley in Championship Series
0-2, 18.00 in 5 innings
2 games, 2 starts
12 hits, 10 earned runs, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts

"I told him we're perfectly satisfied and he seems comfortable with the outing in Arizona," said Torre.

Torre said Hiroki Kuroda continues to improve from a herniated disk in his neck, and the plan is for Kuroda to accompany the club to St. Louis, even though he's not on the roster for this series. Kuroda played catch for the second consecutive day, only this time he actually pitched on flat ground with some intensity.

Torre said he met with Orlando Hudson and they spoke about Torre's decision to start Ronnie Belliard at second base ahead of Hudson. Hudson was an All-Star and Belliard has been nursing a strained groin muscle.

"He was fine. Obviously, he wants to play," said Torre. "He seemed OK. We'll watch Belliard and see what he looks like. We could use [Hudson] on defense for [Belliard]. Even though Belliard doesn't have the range [of Hudson], he knows how to play."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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