Reporting from Atlanta — Joe Torre visited the mound with two outs and a man on second in the seventh inning to talk to Chad Billingsley about his options.
Melky Cabrera was coming up. Eric Hinske was in the on-deck circle, ready to pinch-hit.
Pitch to Cabrera? Or walk Cabrera and face Hinske?
"He was so sure of what he wanted to do," Torre said of Billingsley. "I could have gone either way, with walking him and pitching to Hinske. He had a look in his eye. He wanted to pitch to Melky."
So Torre let him.
Cabrera grounded out and the inning was over. The score was still tied.
The inning was the last pitched by Billingsley in the Dodgers' 4-3 come-from-ahead loss to the Atlanta Braves.
The former all-star had another magnificent night, holding the Braves to one run and five hits over seven innings. He struck out eight.
In the six starts Billingsley had made since he was pounded for seven runs in four innings in St. Louis on July 16, he has posted a 1.55 earned-run average.
As usual, he was a man of few words Monday, downplaying the change in his form over the last two months.
"It's the same thing," he said.
Billingsley acknowledged the defeat was a tough one to take.
"Definitely tough to swallow," he said. "We have to come back tomorrow."
Another big bonus
First-rounder Zach Lee wasn't the only draft pick the Dodgers signed to a deal that included a bonus far above what was recommended by the commissioner's office.
Outfielder Joc Pederson, an 11th-round draft pick from Northern California, received $600,000 for signing with the Dodgers and turning down a scholarship to USC. The bonus was the second-largest among Dodgers draft picks, surpassed only by the $5.25 million received by Lee.
Pederson, who is represented by Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports, slipped to the later rounds because he was looking for late-first- or sandwich-round money. He said he had his bags packed and was planning to drive down from his Palo Alto home to USC on Wednesday. That's when he was presented with a new offer from the Dodgers.
"I decided I was going to school, but they raised the offer by quite a bit," said Pederson, who also got the Dodgers to set aside money for his education if he ever decides to attend college.
Pederson's father, Stu, was a minor leaguer in the Dodgers' organization. He was a September call-up in 1985 and was hitless in five plate appearances over eight games.
"He says a lot of people he played with or was coached by are still in the system," Joc said.
Manny Ramirez is expected to be at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, where he will be examined by the medical staff and possibly make plans to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Because Ramirez has missed almost a month, Torre said he imagined he would have to play in minor league games for about a week before being activated. … Scott Podsednik's hitting streak ended at 12 games. Podsednik was 0 for 3.
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