WASHINGTON -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre was praising the confident way center fielder Matt Kemp goes about his business when he was asked about the confidence level of Chad Billingsley, who starts Sunday's finale against the Nationals.
"I think he's searching," Torre said of Billingsley. "He wants the same thing we do. Unfortunately, a starting pitcher has the tendency to go one of two ways. Either you try not to get too excited, or you get over-prepared and get outside yourself and overthrow.
"He needs to be intense, without being tense. He needs to have that bumblebee inside, in a controlled manner. That's what Sandy [Koufax] talked to [Clayton] Kershaw about, using all your energy, but in the right way."
Billingsley is 1-0, but a 7.07 ERA tells the story about his inconsistency. Although three of the seven runs he allowed against the Reds on Tuesday were unearned -- caused by his error -- for the second time in as many starts Billingsley served up a home run leading off an inning that spun into an even bigger inning when the next two batters reached base.
He's been unable to do damage control, as he did in his lone win in his first start of the year in Pittsburgh, where he escaped jams with runners in scoring position in four consecutive innings and was charged with only one run that scored after he left.
"His stuff is good," said Torre. "We have a tendency to make such an issue of pitch count and throwing strikes, that you can become too concerned with that instead of trusting when he lets it go."