HOUSTON -- With eight players on the disabled list the Los Angeles Dodgers have needed some of their young talent to step up.
On Tuesday night the rookies came through.
Rookie Jerry Sands hit a grand slam in the third inning and Jay Gibbons also homered as the Los Angeles Dodgers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. Two rookie relievers shut down Houston in the last two innings to secure the victory.
"It feels good to get kids being a part of it," manager Don Mattingly said. "We've had to call them up out of necessity with injuries and things that have happened and you don't really want it for that reason. But one of the benefits is that these guys get a shot probably earlier than they would in another case and that experience can be valuable for them."
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Houston starter J.A. Happ (3-6) walked Jamey Carroll with two outs in the third inning before a single by James Loney. Matt Kemp reached on an error by second baseman Bill Hall to set up Sands' slam to left-center.
"That was real tough," Hall said of the error. "On the second hop it kind of took off and if I'd tried to step back and catch it from the side and missed it they score a run. I did my best to keep it in front of me."
The home run by Gibbons to right field in the second inning put Los Angeles up 1-0.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (3-4) yielded five hits and four runs with nine strikeouts to get his first win this month.
Carlos Lee drove in two runs in Houston's three-run third inning.
Rubby De La Rosa, who was called up from Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday, pitched a 1-2/3 eighth inning for the Dodgers in his major league debut. Javy Guerra, who was called up May 15, pitched a perfect ninth for his first major league save.
"Rubby threw the ball really well [with] a lot of confidence and went right after guys," Mattingly said. "Then Javy's got great stuff. That's basically what he was doing before he came up -- closing. We've see a lot of confidence in his stuff, it's electric."
Billingsley pitched a perfect fourth and fifth before Hunter Pence doubled to start Houston's sixth inning. He walked Lee and Brett Wallace to load the bases. Chris Johnson's sacrifice fly to center scored Pence and cut the lead to 5-4. Billingsley was able to limit the damage by retiring the next two Astros to end the inning.
"I was just trying to get ahead and (Pence) jumped on it for that double in the gap and then walking the next two guys, I just really had to bear down," Billingsley said of escaping the inning with the lead.
Lee drove in two with a single to center to get the Astros within 5-3 before Wallace struck out to end the inning.
Happ allowed three hits and five runs -- one earned - in five innings.
"Happ had that third inning that elevated his pitch count and got it up to 93 or 94," Houston manager Brad Mills said of why he pulled Happ after five innings. "All five of their runs came with two outs and no one on and then we gave them that extra out. That always hurts."
The grand slam by Sands was the first by the Dodgers this season and the second home run of his career after he was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on April 18.
He has 16 RBIs since joining the team.
"Getting a few hits here and there and a couple of home runs here and there definitely help your feet settle down in the box a little bit," he said. "It's all about confidence up there."
Happ retired the next seven batters after the grand slam.
Loney extended his hitting streak to a season-best 10 games with his single in the third inning.
- Dodgers OF Andre Ethier was out of the lineup for the second straight game after being taken out of Sunday's game after running into the outfield wall. Mattingly said he's OK, but there were a couple of reasons why he decided to give him another day off. "With the lefty tonight, it would probably be an easy chance to give him another day," Mattingly said. "I need him to be able to go 100 percent. Last year he got banged up and he was hobbling around the whole time out there the whole second half of the year. I just don't want to see that."
- Houston OF/IF Jason Bourgeois, on the DL with an oblique strain, felt good Tuesday, a day after taking swings for the first time since his injury. He hopes to take batting practice by the end of the week.