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Dodgers pound Pirates, 10-2; Chad Billingsley comes up strong

April 8, 2010 | 12:59 pm

Chad_300 Order was restored in the baseball universe Thursday, as PNC Park was once again nearly empty and the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped out of first place.

Other than the fact that Eric Collins was in the broadcasting booth while Vin Scully was presumably home, the only oddity in the Dodgers’ 10-2 pounding of baseball’s lowest-paid team was the lineup fielded by Manager Joe Torre.

Manny Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, Russell Martin and Blake DeWitt weren’t in the starting nine against the Pirates, as Torre signed a lineup card that included the names of Reed Johnson and Jamey Carroll.

Ethier was sidelined with a swollen ankle; the others were rested because Torre didn’t want to play them in a day game that followed a 10-inning night game.

The Dodgers won their first game of the season and avoided a potentially embarrassing three-game sweep by hammering the Pirates for a 16 hits, including three each by Johnson, James Loney and Ronnie Belliard.

Blake’s stand-in at third base, Belliard fell a single short of the cycle. Rafael Furcal, who talked his way out of a seat on the bench, was 2 for 5 with a pair of runs.

Chad Billingsley provided the Dodgers with their first non-awful start of the season – and was, in fact, quite brilliant at times on his way to pitching 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

Billingsley encountered trouble in the third inning, when back-to-back singles put men on first and second with one out. He forced Andrew McCutchen to ground into an inning-ending double play.

An inning later, Billingsley loaded the bases by walking former teammate Delwyn Young, but struck out Andy LaRoche and pitcher Paul Maholm to preserve the Dodgers’ 2-0 advantage.

Belliard’s home run in the fifth doubled the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0.

The incomparably incompetent Hayden Penn, a one-time top prospect who was claimed off waivers last week, entered the game for the Pirates in the seventh inning to seal their fate.

Penn was hit hard. Really hard.

The Dodgers tagged him for six hits in a four-run inning that extended the margin to 8-1 – and they would have added another run had Johnson touched the plate as he slid by catcher Ryan Doumit.

The Dodgers now head to Miami where they will open a three-game series against the Florida Marlins Friday, if weather permits.

-- Dylan Hernandez, reporting from Pittsburgh

Photo: Chad Billingsley. Credit: Keith Srakocic / Associated Press.

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