LOS ANGELES -- Chad Billingsley won his third straight start since coming off the disabled list, batterymate A.J. Ellis hit two solo homers and had an RBI single, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Billingsley (7-9) allowed a run and four hits in seven innings, struck out seven and walked two. The right-hander lost five consecutive starts with a 6.21 ERA during a stretch before going on the disabled list with elbow pain, and since then has allowed just two runs in 20 1-3 innings. This is the eighth time in his eight-year career that he has won as many as three straight starts, but he has never won more than four consecutive starts.
Billingsley, in the second year of a four-year contract that will pay him more than $41 million, had been 0-4 with a 4.70 ERA in his previous eight starts at Dodger Stadium since beating Pittsburgh 4-1 in his first home start of the season on April 11.
Jeff Samardzija (7-9) gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings without walking a batter and struck out three. The former Notre Dame wide receiver had a 1.91 ERA over his previous five starts after surrendering nine runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 17-1 loss to the New York Mets on June 27 at Wrigley Field.
Chicago's Darwin Barney, who sat out Wednesday's game for precautionary reasons after getting hit in the head by Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett on Tuesday night, reached on an infield hit with one out in the fifth after Ellis fielded the swinging bunt about 10 feet up the third base line and pulled first baseman James Loney off the bag with his hurried throw. Luis Valbuena tied the score 1-all with an RBI double inside first base with Loney playing even with the bag.
The Dodgers regained the lead in the bottom half with two runs, after Ramirez beat the Cubs' defensive shift with a grounder through the hole vacated by second baseman Barney and legged out a double. Ramirez scored the go-ahead run on Loney's double and Ellis added an RBI single to go along with his ninth home run in the third inning.
Ramirez, who is 8-for-15 lifetime against Samardzija, increased the margin to 5-1 in the sixth with a two-run single that chased the right-hander. In nine games since joining the Dodgers in a trade from Miami, Ramirez is 9-for-35 with 10 RBIs.
Gold Glove center fielder Matt Kemp of the Dodgers thwarted Alfonso Soriano's extra-base bid in the first inning, drifting back toward the warning track on a ball that kept carrying and making a leaping backhanded grab at the last possible instant before brushing up against the fence. Cubs right fielder Bryan LaHair turned the tables on Kemp in the bottom half with a similar play on his opposite-field drive toward the auxiliary scoreboard.
NOTES: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly won't decide when RHP Joe Blanton will make his first start for them until he joins his new club on Saturday, following Friday's trade with Philadelphia. The deal took on some urgency after LHP Ted Lilly was scratched from his scheduled rehab outing with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night. Lilly hasn't pitched for Los Angeles since May 23 because of inflammation in his shoulder. ... Barney tied Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg's franchise record for consecutive errorless games in one season by a second baseman with his 90th. Sandberg carried his streak into the 1990 season before it ended at 123. ... Ramirez made his first start at SS for the Dodgers after starting his first eight games with them at 3B. He played exclusively at SS last season with the Marlins, but shifted to third after they got Jose Reyes from the Mets in the offseason. Once the Dodgers get Dee Gordon back from the DL, Ramirez will be back at third. ... Cubs RHP Alberto Cabrera faced one batter in his major league debut, striking out Luis Cruz with a runner at second to end the sixth. He signed with them as a non-drafted free agent in July 2005, and was promoted on Wednesday from Triple-A.