LOS ANGELES -- Interleague games make for intriguing showdowns between pitchers and hitters who don't normally face each other. Right now, Chad Billingsley has a decided edge against Miguel Cabrera.
Billingsley won his third straight start with seven solid innings, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-1 victory over Dontrelle Willis and the Detroit Tigers on Friday night in the first interleague game for both teams. The Dodgers tied the San Diego Padres for the NL West lead with their 11th victory in 12 games.
Cabrera, the Tigers' cleanup hitter and the only one on Detroit's roster with any substantive experience against Billingsley, was 0 for 3 against the All-Star right-hander and is hitless in 12 career at-bats against him.
"He did a real good job and he threw strikes when he needed to," Cabrera said. "He worked on the outside and inside corners and kept us off-balance. Right now, we're playing in National League parks and there's no DH, so they have the advantage. But we have to keep battling and be more aggressive at the plate tomorrow and make something happen."
Cabrera came in leading the Tigers with nine homers, 38 RBI and a .340 average. That didn't matter to Billingsley, who got him to pop up to second base in the first inning, fly out to right in the fourth and ground out to shortstop in the sixth.
"It's luck. I mean, his numbers speak for itself," Billingsley said. "He's a tough out, so you have to go after him tough. I got him with heaters up in the zone. I made quality pitches against him, but it's the same with any quality hitter."
Billingsley (5-2) allowed a run and four hits, struck out five and walked two. Ronald Belisario pitched a hitless eighth and Jonathan Broxton struck out the side in the ninth for his ninth save.
"We didn't muster much offense at all," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Billingsley threw the ball extremely well, but we did him a favor and let him have a couple of innings where he didn't have to labor at all and got some quick outs. We were back out on the field before we could turn around. I thought that took its toll on us."
Willis (2-1) was charged with four runs and six hits over 5 1/3 innings, and is 1-6 with a 6.91 ERA in eight career starts against the Dodgers. His only win against them came in August 2005 while he was with the Florida Marlins.
The victory was the Dodgers' 100th during interleague play against 110 losses.
Manny Ramirez returned to the lineup after missing two games because of an injury to the small toe on his left foot, which occurred in a freak accident in the trainer's room.
Manager Joe Torre sent out a lineup with only three regulars in it: Ramirez, center fielder Matt Kemp and third baseman Casey Blake. Catcher Russell Martin, riding a career-best 15-game hitting streak, got the night off after starting the previous 22 games.
The Dodgers snapped a 1-all tie with a pair of runs in the fifth. Jamey Carroll drew a walk, took third on Ronnie Belliard's double and scored on a wild pitch as Willis' next delivery nearly hit Ramirez in the knee before going to the backstop. Ramirez drove in Belliard with a scorching single that ricocheted off third baseman Brandon Inge's right leg with the infield playing in.
Willis was pulled after giving up one-out singles by Reed Johnson and Nick Green in the sixth, and A.J. Ellis greeted Eddie Bonine with an RBI single that increased the Dodgers' lead to 4-1. Johnson was 3 for 3 with a walk.
Willis retired his first two batters in the fourth before the Dodgers loaded the bases on a single by Kemp and two walks. The left-hander then hit Green on the back foot with a pitch to force in the tying run, but minimized the damage by retiring Ellis on a liner to second.
"It's one of those starts that's hard to sum up. It wasn't a great start, but it certainly wasn't a bad start," Leyland said. "The one inning there with the walks and the hit batsman hurt him. That's usually going to lead to more damage than it did."
The Tigers' only victory against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine was June 7, 2005, when Tony Giarratano hit a go-ahead solo homer off Duaner Sanchez in the seventh inning of an 8-4 win. It was the only home run in 47 big-league plate appearances for Giarratano. ... Leyland grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio -- about 50 miles from Billingsley's birthplace of Defiance, Ohio. Leyland's twin nephews, Tom and Mike Leyland, batted against Billingsley in high school. "They said it wasn't very much fun hitting off him," Leyland said. ... While the Tigers were taking batting practice, the Dodgers' video crew ran a 5-minute tribute on the Diamond Vision screen in honor of Tigers and Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who died May 4 at age 92.