ATLANTA (AP) — Chad Billingsley combined with two relievers for a three-hit shutout to win his sixth straight start, Luis Cruz homered for the second game in a row and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Sunday.
Mark Ellis drove in four runs, three with a bases-loaded double in the ninth.
Billingsley (10-9) gave up three hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking two. He is 6-0 since the All-Star break after losing five straight. He reached 10 wins for the sixth straight season.
Ronald Belisario and Scott Elbert each pitched a perfect inning to complete the shutout.
The Dodgers now return home to open a series Monday night against San Francisco for the NL West lead.
Los Angeles took two of three to Atlanta’s streak of seven straight series wins. The Braves head to Washington to begin a three-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals.
Cruz homered deep into the left-field seats in the fifth off Mike Minor (6-10) for a 1-0 lead. Cruz hit one of the Dodgers’ four homers in their 6-2 win over the Braves on Saturday night.
Minor kept up his string of strong starts by allowing one run on five hits and no walks in seven innings. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in his last eight starts, but he has three straight losses.
Chad Durbin walked pinch-hitter Juan Uribe to start with eighth. Uribe moved to third on Shane Victorino’s hit-and-run single to left and scored when a flyball hit by Ellis dropped in front of right fielder Jason Heyward for a single. Heyward lost the ball in the sun even though he was wearing sunglasses.
Heyward lost another ball in the sun in the ninth, giving A.J. Ellis a double off Cristhian Martinez. Pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy followed with a bloop single to left between shortstop Paul Janish and left fielder Reed Johnson.
Cristhian Martinez walked Victorino to load the bases. Mark Ellis followed with his three-run double down the left-field line for a 5-0 lead.
There was sarcastic applause from the crowd of 26,798 when Heyward caught Matt Kemp’s flyball for the second out of the ninth.
Heyward tripled with two outs in the fourth for Atlanta’s first hit. Billingsley walked Freddie Freeman before Dan Uggla popped out.
The Braves’ only other scoring opportunity against Billingsley came when Michael Bourn singled with one out in the sixth, stole second and moved to third on Martin Prado’s grounder. Heyward struck out to end the inning, and then tossed his bat and helmet in frustration.
Braves catcher Brian McCann was 0 for 3 after sitting out two straight games. He said Saturday he has a cyst and a frayed labrum in his right shoulder but can play through the discomfort. He is hitting only .103 (4 for 39) in August and .227 overall.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)