ST. LOUIS — Chad Billingsley returned from the disabled list with a strong outing that ended a five-start losing streak, and Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 Monday night in 101-degree heat for their fifth straight victory.
Cruz, recalled July 2 to replaced injured shortstop Dee Gordon, has two career homers and 12 RBIs. Eight of his 14 hits are for extra bases. His three-run shot in the second barely cleared the left-field wall — the ball conked left fielder Matt Holliday on the rebound — to give the Dodgers the early jump in their eighth straight win over St. Louis dating to April 17, 2011.
Kenley Jansen struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 24 chances. The Dodgers also won eight in a row against St. Louis from 1975-76, their best streak in the series since moving to Los Angeles.
Carlos Beltran homered for the second straight game with a two-run shot in the eighth for the Cardinals, hitting his 22nd of the year off Ronald Belisario. But St. Louis was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, failing to build on a three-game sweep of the Cubs in which it outscored Chicago 23-1.
Mark Ellis added a two-run double in the seventh off Victor Marte, the third reliever the Cardinals used in the inning in an effort to keep it close. Tony Gwynn Jr. contributed a pinch-hit single and scored, making him 8-for-16 with five RBIs in that role.
Rookie Cardinals starter Joe Kelly (1-3) allowed two earned runs on four hits in six innings, and had a tougher day from a physical standpoint. He contributed to Ellis' double-play ball the second at-bat of the game by deflecting a high chopper with his pitching hand, prompting a visit from team trainers and a brief delay to make sure he could still pitch.
Kelly got a second visit from the trainer after beating out an infield hit in the fifth, then stumbling over the bag and sprawling to the ground. Earlier in the at-bat, Kelly barely missed a homer on a ball that replays indicated was less than a foot outside the foul pole in left.
Billingsley (5-9) allowed a run and four hits in six innings to win for the first time since June 10 at Seattle and end a skid that matched his career worst. In the five starts he made prior to going on the DL, the right-hander had a 6.21 ERA while allowing 41 hits in 29 innings.
The Dodgers trailed for the first time in four games during a 10-game trip after Jon Jay doubled for his fifth consecutive hit with one out in the first and scored on Lance Berkman's two-out single. Jay also singled to start the eighth and scored on Beltran's homer.