ST. LOUIS — It took six weeks, a trip to the disabled list and finally laboring in 100-degree heat, but the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley won another game.
The right-handed pitcher earned his first victory since June 10 by holding the Cardinals to one run in six innings Monday as the Dodgers defeated St. Louis, 5-3, extending the Dodgers' winning streak to five games.
Luis Cruz's three-run home run and Mark Ellis' two-run double led the Dodgers' offense in front of an announced crowd of 42,806 at Busch Stadium.
"I was ready to go," Billingsley (5-9) said of his start, which came after a stint on the 15-day disabled list for inflammation in his throwing elbow. Before that, Billingsley had lost his last five decisions.
Asked after the game whether his elbow bothered him, Billingsley said, "Nope," and added his curveball and change-up were particularly effective Monday.
Billingsley said the heat didn't bother him, either — "You stay loose," he said — even though for the first time this season he had to change his sweat-soaked jersey during the game.
The Dodgers bested Cardinals rookie pitcher Joe Kelly, 24, an Anaheim native who attended UC Riverside and was making his eighth big-league start and first against the Dodgers.
In the second inning, Andre Ethier reached first base on first baseman Lance Berkman's error and moved to second base on Kelly's wild pitch. Adam Kennedy then singled on a fly to shallow left field that shortstop Rafael Furcal tried to backhand but couldn't catch.
Cruz, called up early this month from triple-A Albuquerque, then belted his home run over the left-field wall to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
Eight of Cruz's 14 big-league hits this year have been extra-base hits, and he's driven in at least one run in each of the first four games of the Dodgers' current 10-game trip.
"I'm just very happy they've given me a chance to play and prove what I can do," Cruz said. Kelly "threw me two sinkers in, I was trying to hit the ball back through the middle and he hung a curveball inside," he said.
Billingsley got off to a shaky start in the first inning when Jon Jay doubled down the right-field line, Matt Holliday walked and, one out later, Berkman singled in Jay to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
But Billingsley then held the Cardinals scoreless for the next five innings. Overall, he allowed seven hits and one walk and struck out four.
In the eighth inning, with Jay on first base, Carlos Beltran slugged his 22nd home run of the season off Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario to cut the Dodgers' lead to 5-3.
But closer Kenley Jansen retired the side in the ninth inning for his 19th save.
As expected, when the Dodgers activated Billingsley on Monday they optioned relief pitcher Josh Wall — who won Sunday's game in his major-league debut — to triple-A Albuquerque.