One Is All The Dodgers Need

SportsArizona DiamondbacksChad BillingsleyJon GarlandManny RamirezJonathan Broxton

LOS ANGELES -- If the Dodgers stick with their current rotation and start Chad Billingsley every fifth game, the right-hander will be on the mound when the team welcomes Manny Ramirez back from his suspension next month in San Diego.

Which seems only fitting since no Dodger has missed Ramirez more than Billingsley.

In his first six starts, with Ramirez on the roster, the right-hander went 5-0. In his last six, without Ramirez, he is 2-3.

In those first six games, the Ramirez-led Dodgers scored more than 6 1/2 runs a game behind Billingsley. In the last six, the Ramirez-less Dodgers have averaged less than half that.

And they made those feeble numbers worse Wednesday, scoring only once while their ace was on the hill. But Billingsley and the bullpen made that stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"It's just about the personality of this club," Manager Joe Torre said of his Dodgers, who are a season-high 19 games over .500. "We've played a lot of close games. We've played a lot of one-run games.

"It's not good for my stomach. But it's good practice because these guys have been able to rise to the occasion."

Torre's Dodgers have played 17 one-run games to be exact. And they've won 12 of them. Two of those one-run wins have come in shutouts, which is also good practice, especially for Billingsley who has gotten only a run of support in each of his last two starts.

Last time it wasn't enough.

This time, however, he was more gutsy than brilliant, persevering though six innings in which he gave up four hits -- all singles -- and walked four.

Four times the Diamondbacks got runners into scoring position with fewer than two out, but Billingsley (7-3) escaped each time, wiggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

"I was trying to just keep us in the game and throw up zeros," Billingsley said.

And to keep the Dodgers in the game he had to throw up zeros because for four innings his teammates couldn't manage a hit off of former Angel Jon Garland (4-5).

And if not for a mistake by Diamondbacks left fielder Gerardo Parra in the sixth, the Dodgers probably wouldn't have scored off him either.

James Loney opened the bottom of the sixth by slicing a lazy fly ball down the line that Parra, after a long run, dove for. When he missed the catch, the ball bounced past him into the corner as Loney raced to third. Casey Blake then drove him in with a sacrifice fly.

"It was just enough," Billingsley said.

But just barely.

"It's nothing I can control," he said of the lack of offense. "I'm going out there and I have to pitch my game. That's the only thing I can control. Their pitcher was throwing great. So I have to go out there and match [him]."

The Dodgers got only one hit after Loney's triple, dropping their team average to .224 over the last week.

After Billingsley came out of the game, relievers Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso and Jonathan Broxton took it from there, combining for three shutout innings that ended with Broxton's nailing down his 13th save.

"It's the kind of game that the ace has to give you the chance to win," Torre said of Billingsley's effort. "He's earned a lot of trust here in a short time."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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