Billingsley shut down San Diego's resurgent offense with seven brilliant innings of four-hit ball that carried the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 5-0 win on Sunday.
The 23-year-old right-hander beat the Padres for the third time this season by matching his career-high with nine strikeouts against only one walk and allowing only one baserunner as far as second base. The Dodgers, trying to stay in the playoff hunt, avoided a three-game sweep.
San Diego leads the NL West by less than a percentage point over second-place Arizona. The Padres, who rested three regulars, including spark plug Milton Bradley, lost for just the fourth time in 13 games.
The Dodgers are four games back in both the division and wild-card race.
"It was a big series for us. We had to at least take one," Billingsley said. "If we would have gotten swept it would have hurt a lot."
Said manager Grady Little: "We're down but we're not out. There's always a chance. But we just can't miss many steps between here and the end. But every game we're playing right now is not do or die."
Billingsley's effort certainly helped.
"Chad was very good out there today," Little said. "You couldn't ask for anything more."
Billingsley's domination came after the Padres won the first two games of the series by scores of 6-4 and 7-0.
"I think we need that from several people right now," Little said. "The more we get it, the better chance we'll have."
Billingsley's pitching line Sunday almost matched that of July 1 at Los Angeles, when he beat the Padres 5-0 with seven innings of three-hit ball, with nine strikeouts and no walks.
"They have a great lineup," said Billingsley, who's in his second big league season. "There are no easy outs. If you make a mistake over the plate, those guys can hit it out. Just trust your stuff and make quality pitches. Hitters can sometimes find a way to get themselves out."
The Dodgers, who've won only six of 15 against San Diego this year, host the Padres Sept. 11-13. If the Dodgers stay on their current rotation, Billingsley would face them on the 13th.
"He's a young guy but he can pitch," San Diego's Mike Cameron said. "He did almost the same thing to us in L.A. We just couldn't get anything going against him."
Billingsley (10-4) also beat the Padres in relief in a 5-4, 17-inning victory at Petco Park on April 29.
Billingsley and four relievers combined on a six-hitter. After the Padres loaded the bases against Scott Proctor and Joe Beimel with one out in the eighth, Jonathan Broxton came on and struck out Cameron with a 99-mph fastball and Adrian Gonzalez with a full-count, 88-mph slider.
"That guy can get pretty filthy," said Cameron, who hit a grand slam in Saturday night's win. "He goes fast, faster and even faster. And when he's locating his fastball, he's tough to hit."
San Diego's bats were quiet after consecutive wins by scores of 6-4 and 7-0. Gonzalez doubled leading off the fourth and was stranded. He was the only Padres baserunner to get as far as second against Billingsley.
They added four more against Kevin Cameron in the seventh, three of which were unearned due to the reliever's error. Furcal drew a leadoff walk and stole second before Cameron bobbled Juan Pierre's bunt for an error, putting runners on first and third. Kemp and Jeff Kent followed with run-scoring singles to chase Cameron, and James Loney hit a two-run double off Joe Thatcher.
Germano (7-8) lost for the eighth time in 10 decisions after winning his first five decisions. He allowed one run and eight hits in six innings, struck out five and walked three.
- The Dodgers stranded 10 baserunners and the Padres stranded seven.
- Padres manager Bud Black said Bradley's left side was sore after Saturday night's game. "It's nothing to be concerned with," Black said. Bradley, who spent time on the DL earlier this season with a strained left oblique, will be back in the starting lineup in LF on Monday afternoon at Arizona.
- C Josh Bard and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff also received the day off. C Michael Barrett started a day after coming off a stint on the DL due to concussionlike symptoms.
- 3B Andy LaRoche was recalled by the Dodgers from Triple-A Las Vegas and started. LaRoche got the start a day after Shea Hillenbrand committed a two-base error and struck out twice. Hillenbrand also struck out three times Friday night.
- Dodgers reliever Roberto Hernandez appeared in his 1,005 career game, tied for 10th on the all-time games pitched list with Mike Jackson.