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Billingsley is hoping to be razor sharp today

October 02, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- There was an unusual amount of facial hair on Chad Billingsley's boyish face Wednesday, but the 24-year-old right-hander said he wasn't growing a playoff beard.

"I haven't had a start in a long time," Billingsley said.

Billingsley says he only shaves on the day of his starts, something he hasn't had in eight days. He plans to maintain his routine this morning, though not everything about the latest cycle in his life is routine.

His start today in Game 2 of the NL division series will be the first postseason start of his career and at stake will be the chance to put the Chicago Cubs in a hole.

"If we come and take Game 2, it would be huge," said Billingsley, who was 16-10 with a 3.14 earned-run average in the regular season. "But I'm just going to go out and pitch my game."

Billingsley skipped his scheduled start in the Dodgers' regular-season finale Sunday in San Francisco, opting instead to pitch two innings out of the bullpen.

Billingsley looked like a tired pitcher in his last two starts, relying more on will than skill as he overcame control problems and managed to not lose either game.

"The extra rest will help," Billingsley said. "But it's a new season right now with different emotions."

Maddux in the 'pen

When Russell Martin's ninth-inning home run extended the Dodgers' lead to 7-2, Takashi Saito stopped warming up and Greg Maddux started throwing.

Maddux pitched the ninth inning of the Dodgers' victory, giving up a single to Ryan Theriot but nothing else. The relief appearance was the third in the last 20 years for the 42-year-old Maddux -- the previous two were also in the postseason -- and first in nine years.

"It was a lot different," said Maddux, who left Theriot stranded at third. "When you start, the adrenaline fades as the game goes on. When you come out of the 'pen, it hits you all at once. There's a lot more breathing involved."

Maddux said he thought his arm could handle pitching on consecutive days.

"When you do it two days in a row, it's not bad," he said. "Four out of five days is bad."

Roster change

Manager Joe Torre made a change to the tentative playoff roster he released on the eve of Game 1, dropping reliever Ramon Troncoso and replacing him with September call-up James McDonald.

Torre said he first thought of including Troncoso because of his ability to warm up multiple times in a game.

But McDonald, the 23-year-old right-hander who was named the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year for the second time, showed him enough in his four appearances out of the bullpen to change his mind.

McDonald, who pitched six scoreless innings in the regular season, had a blank expression on his face as he waited for the Dodgers to start stretching but denied that he wasn't excited.

"I'm just trying to control it," he said.

Short hops

Rafael Furcal played nine innings for the first time since May 5 and reported feeling no pain in his surgically repaired back. . . . James Loney's fifth-inning grand slam was the first in a division series for the Dodgers and the first for them in the postseason since Dusty Baker hit one on Oct. 5, 1977. Loney's four runs batted in tied their division series record set by Eric Karros on Oct. 4, 1995. . . . Jeff Kent pinch-hit in the eighth inning and grounded into a double play.


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