Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley delivers a pitch during the Dodgers'… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
The T-shirts passed out by Juan Uribe to teammates are supposed to pay a sort of backhanded homage to Maury Wills. They were not directed purely at Chad Billingsley, though you could understand if someone thought otherwise upon reading the inscription: You can do better.
Everyone agrees there is plenty more to the right-hander, certainly more than what he demonstrated last season when he went 11-11 with a 4.21 earned-run average.
“For me, it’s kind of flat-lined,” said Don Mattingly at the end of last season. “I feel there’s more there.”
There was plenty more on display Friday on a cool night in San Diego, as Billingsley dominated the Padres from the mound, and Andre Ethier at the plate, on the way to the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory at Petco Park.
Billingsley held the Padres to three hits in his 8 1/3 innings, striking out 11 and walking only one. He looked a lot like the No. 2 pitcher the Dodgers need him to be. And he did it after Mattingly had gone deep into the bullpen in the season opener the previous night, when ace Clayton Kershaw took the mound with the flu and lasted three shutout innings.
Billingsley was aiming at just his third career shutout, but then he gave up a one-out single to Cameron Maybin in the ninth. It was his 108th pitch on his first start of the season, so Mattingly took him out. Jamey Wright got the final two outs.
The T-shirts with their "you can do better" slogan are actually a reference to instructor Maury Wills, infamous for the way he encourages hitters during bunting drills.
Ethier is another who most are certain can do better than his injury-riddled 2011. Coming off knee surgery, Ethier had a spectacular spring and pretty much kept it going in the second game of the season.
Ethier drove in four runs off left-hander Cory Luebke, doubling in two in the first inning and tripling in two more in the fifth. Both drives were shots to the deep part of right-center field.
Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera each drove in a run, and the Padres helped along the L.A. cause with a pair of errors.
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