SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers have the best record in the National League, they've nearly clinched a playoff spot and they have probable home field advantage until the World Series.
So why does it feel like they might be vulnerable?
Chad Billingsley's second-half, that's why.
Billingsley, the supposed ace, lasted only 70 pitches in Sunday's 7-2 whipping by San Francisco. The Giants scored three runs and collected eight hits against him in four innings. He left a fat pitch for Juan Uribe to whack for a two-run homer in the second.
Were it a one-time slip, it would be one thing. But Billingsley, an NL All-Star, seems to have left his stuff in St. Louis. He's 3-6 with a 5.49 ERA since, and he doesn't seem to know how to fix it.
"It just looked to me like he was feeling for it," manager Joe Torre said. "It didn't look like he was able to locate."
"The cutter," Billingsley said of his cut fastball. "That's mostly what was getting hit today. It was spinning out of my hand. It wasn't moving too much."
Is that a recurring problem?
"Usually, it doesn't do that," Billingsley said.
He's got three weeks -- and probably three more starts -- to iron things out and give Dodgers fans confidence when he's matched up against Philadelphia's Cliff Lee or St. Louis' Chris Carpenter in Game 1 of a playoff series.
Worrisome thing is, nobody seems close to any answers.
"It's sort of a domino effect, I think," Torre said. "The psychological effect of not winning, trying to find that niche for yourself, that comfort zone."
Likes: Colorado at San Francisco beginning on Monday with at least some juice to it. Must-win for San Francisco. Heck, must-sweep for San Francisco. ... Tony Bennett singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco on the sound system at the Giants' ballpark after Sunday's game, accompanied by loving, gorgeous video of The City on the scoreboard. ... Tommaso's Italian Restaurant on Kearny in North Beach. ... What a great Michigan-Notre Dame game on Saturday. ... What a great USC-Ohio State game. ... Very entertaining start to the college football season. ... Good news on the Michigan high school football front Friday with Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central pummeling Flat Rock 40-0. Next victim for the Falcons: New Boston Huron, Friday night.
Dislikes: Early morning school days.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Come on children
"You´re acting like children
"Every generation thinks
"It's the end of the world
"And all you fat followers
"Get fit fast
"Every generation thinks it´s the last
"Thinks it's the end of the world"
-- Wilco, You Never Know