Billingsley's strong start goes downhill

Billingsley's strong start goes downhill

LOS ANGELES -- The first three innings of a 9-7 loss in 11 innings Wednesday night, Chad Billingsley had recorded four strikeouts -- three of them looking. He had allowed the D-backs just one baserunner, a one-out double in the first inning. He was on.

The Dodgers' offense, coming off a four-homer game Tuesday, was also on. RBIs from Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier helped staked Billingsley to a 2-0 lead in the first inning that grew to a 3-0 lead in the third.

Two pitches into the fourth inning, Billingsley began to unravel.

Arizona's Stephen Drew, who entered batting .378 against Billingsley, hit a leadoff homer to right. Justin Upton followed with a single and Adam LaRoche with a double. Two sacrifice flies tied the game at 3.

"It was just making mistake pitches up out over the plate and I can't do that," Billingsley said. "And that was pretty much my night."

The Dodgers came back for two more runs in the fourth on Matt Kemp's second home run in as many nights, and Billingsley went out for the fifth with a 5-3 lead. Again, he couldn't hold it.

Billingsley got the first two outs on ground balls then allowed two runs. He allowed another in the sixth for a 6-5 Arizona lead. His final line was six runs on eight hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

Billingsley threw 5 1/3 innings in his last start and was more effective, allowing one run in a 10-2 victory over the Pirates. He was the stopper, earning the win after the Dodgers lost their first two games of the season.

"He got in some bad counts and I think he started overthrowing the ball in that last inning," manager Joe Torre said. "It is frustrating for him because his first three innings were really good and his last start was really good and I know this is a disappointment for him."

Billingsley threw 116 pitches Wednesday, 51 of them over the fourth and fifth innings. He had thrown a first-pitch strike to seven of 10 hitters over the first three innings, but a first-pitch ball to 10 of 17 batters he faced in his final 2 2/3 innings.

Since a dominant first half last season, Billingsley has not had the same form. He added a changeup to his repertoire this spring.

"It's still early in the season; we got a long season ahead of us," Billingsley said. "Just got to come back and get ready for the next one."

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.