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Astros Go For Back-To-Back Series Wins Against Billingsly

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t been producing enough runs to support starter Chad Billingsley lately and hope to stem the tide tonight in the middle test of a three-game road series against the Houston Astros.

Billingsley is 0-3 with a decent 2.91 earned run average in his last five starts, with the Dodgers amassing a 1-4 mark in that stretch. The Dodgers have lost Billingsley’s previous four starts and have scored just three runs over his past four trips to the mound.

The right-hander is coming off last Thursday’s 3-1 loss to San Francisco in which he yielded three runs and six hits in six innings to fall to 2-4 in 10 starts and raise his ERA to 3.47. Billingsley is 1-2 in five road starts and will face Houston for the seventh time in his career on Tuesday. He is 3-3 over the first six matchups — all starts — with the Astros.

Clayton Kershaw pitched well enough for the win in Monday’s 4-3 loss at Minute Maid Park, as the left-hander held the hosts to a run and four hits in six innings with seven strikeouts before the bullpen imploded. Reliever Kenley Jansen was saddled with the loss for giving up the go-ahead runs (3) in the bottom of the ninth inning. Michael Bourn stroked a two-run double and Hunter Pence plated the speedy outfielder with an RBI single.

“This was a tough one to lose. When things aren’t going right for your team it’s a tumbling effect,” Kershaw said.

Matt Kemp homered for the 100th time in his career and James Loney extended his hitting streak to nine games. Loney is hitting .324 in that stretch for the Dodgers, who have lost three in a row and eight of 10 games. LA is 1-3 on a six-game road swing and 10-14 as the guest this season.

The Astros are in search of just their second three-game winning streak of the season and turned the trick from April 30-May 3. In last night’s rally past the Dodgers, Bourn and Pence came through in the clutch to lift Houston to its second straight win and third in four tries since a five-game slide.

Humberto Quintero also drove in a run and Bill Hall finished 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored for Houston, which opened a six-game homestand on a positive note and made a winner out of relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino. Fulchino threw the final 1 2/3 innings and kept Los Angeles off the scoreboard.

“Hunter came through,” Astros manager Brad Mills said of the outfielder’s game-winning single. “He’s going to give you a big at-bat every time up.”

Bud Norris started for the ’Stros and gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits and three walks through seven innings in the no-decision.

Houston, which is slated to host Arizona for three games, will hand the ball to lefty J.A. Happ on Tuesday and he’s trying to get back into the win column. Happ was 2-0 in three starts before losing at St. Louis last Thursday in a 4-2 setback at Busch Stadium.

Happ permitted three runs in six innings, falling to 3-5 in nine starts to go along with a 5.30 ERA. He has no record in two career games (1 start) and a strong 1.59 ERA against the Dodgers.

Los Angeles and Houston are meeting for the first time since the Dodgers won four of six matchups a year ago. LA is 6-3 in the past nine games in this series.

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