Tonight’s lineup: Ethier IN

Andre Ethier gets his first start against a lefty this year. Although he is just 1 for 6 against them this year, he hit .351 against them last year, albeit with just one of his 11 homers. Other than Martinez playing for Betemit, it’s the usual lineup. Talked with both Grady and Betemit before the game, neither one thinks there is any reason for Betemit to give up switch-hitting at this point. My guess is they would be more alarmed if he were struggling left-handed, because right-handed is his natural side. Anywhere, here’s tonight’s alignment

SS Furcal — 7 for 19 against Noah Lowry
CF Pierre — 8G hitting streak (15-36)
1B Nomar — 8 for 20 against Lowry
2B Kent — 5 for 15 with 3 HR against Lowry
LF Gonzo — 6G hitting sreak (7 for 19)
C Martin — 3G hit streak (4 for 10)
RF Ethier — 1 for 11 on homestand
3B Martinez 4 for 12 against Lowry
LH Randy Wolf — Bonds is 3 for 17 with 1 HR against him

Predictably, Betemit sits

Haven’t seen tonight’s lineup yet, but I do know Ramon Martinez is starting at 3B, meaning Wilson Betemit is out against lefty Noah Lowry. Makes perfect sense. Betemit is 0 for 10 against lefties this season, and he hit .189 against them last year. Makes you wonder if he shouldn’t stop switch-hitting and just bat lefty, even though he’s naturally right-handed. I’m going to GUESS that Andre Ethier will be out, too, since he hasn’t started against a lefty all year and is 1 for 6 facing them later in games. … Had a great lunch down in Long Beach today at a place called the Fish Tale. Went there with Chris Haft, who covers the Giants for, and Marc Lancaster, who covers the Devil Rays for the Tampa Tribune (the Rays are playing the Angels), and Long Beach was about halfway between us and Marc, who is staying Costa Mesa. The three of us used to cover the Cincinnati Reds together, so we’re all great friends from way back. Anyway, they had an extensive menu, it was affordable, and the food was solid. It’s at the corner of Bellflower and, ummmmmm, can’t remember, but it’s in that shopping center on Bellflower a few blocks south of the 405.

Giants 5, Dodgers 3

Dodgers almost created more deadline headaches for me, but Luis Gonzalez’s doubleplay grounder in the eighth and Rafael Furcal’s game-ending grounder in the ninth siphoned off any chance of a comeback a la Saturday night against Pittsburgh. They say this Giants bullpen is supposed to be horrible, but frankly, I didn’t see it tonight. Giants reliever came in with a combined 11 consecutive scoreless innings, and although an inherited runner scored off Brad Hennessey (wonder if he’s related to Jill, ex of Law & Order and now of Crosing Jordan, probably not), the Dodgers still didn’t score off a Giants reliever tonight — even though Hennessey and closer Armando Benitez were far from impressive. The Dodgers also scored just four runs in nine innings of the Giants’ bullpen in their three-game sweep of the Jints up North a couple of weeks ago. … One thing I have to look into tomorrow is this sudden tendency by Russell Martin to throw the ball into center field. He has done it in each of the past three games now, all in the first inning. He did make a perfect throw down in the sixth inning tonight to nail Randy Winn trying to steal, so I don’t think we’re looking at any kind of a Steve Sax/Steve Blass/Chuck Knoblauch/Mackey Sasser/Mark Wohlers sort of thing just yet. But hey, it’s worth an early note tomorrow, at the very least. I mean, it IS three games in a row. Interestingly, each time has been with the other team’s leadoff hitter trying to steal or advance on a wild pitch. That could suggest Russ is trying to rush the throw because he knows he’s dealing with fast runners. Winn is a fast runner, too, but he’s not Dave Roberts or Chris Duffy.

Morris has a no-no through three

The sad thing is, he’s the second opposing starter in a row about which that can be said, because Pittsburgh’s Tom Gorzelanny was perfect through three on Sunday. Meanwhile, Russell Martin threw another ball into center field in the first inning, and you can’t help wondering why he is doing that so much. It was his fourth error of the season already. This one cost D-Lowe an unearned run. Jints got another run in the second on an RBI double by Randy Winn, after which D-Lowe walked Morris to load the bases with one out. But Dave Roberts flied to shallow left on a looper that Gonzo had to dive for. Proving that Bengie Molina’s foot speed is even worse that Gonzo’s arm, Molina held at third. Omar Vizquel, who turns 40 today, then grounded out to end the threat. With a helping hand from Gonzo, Lowe has now set down eight in a row since the walk to Morris. Giants 2, Dodgers 0, bottom 4

It spoke

Barry Bonds apparently is doing a pack interview before each series this season. Today, he talked in the Giants dugout for about 10 minutes. He brings his own tape recorder to these sessions and records them, then has someone post the entire transcript on his web site so fans can hear every word of both the questions and his responses. Thus, at least to Barry’s way of thinking, he can guard against stories that take his words out of context. Whatever. Shockingly, the soon-to-be-crowned all-time home run king said NOTHING of consequence.

Tonight’s lineup

It’s the usual again.
SS Furcal 1 for 13 on the homestand
CF Pierre 7 gm hitting streak (14 for 32)
1B Nomar 4 for 8 on homestand
2B Kent
LF Gonzo 5 gm hitting streak (6 for 15)
C Martin leads all ML catchers in runs (14)
RF Ethier
3B Betemit leads team with 10 walks
RH Lowe

Grady spent the off-day riding his new motorcycle, the one Juan Pierre bought for him from Jeff Kent’s dealership for Grady giving up No. 9 to Pierre. Rode all over the place, he said, with his wife on the back holding onto him He said she held on a lot more tightly whenever they were on Mulholland. … Matt Kemp could resume his minor-league rehab as soon as tomorrow. … Hong-Chih Kuo will pitch a simulated game tomorrow, probably four innings and 60 pitches. … Nothing new on Jason Schmidt, who is still in Phoenix with his wife and new son.

The boys get lucky again

Got through a two-game series at AZ last week without having to face either Brandon Wood or the disabled Randy Johnson. Now, they get a three-game set with the Jints without having to face either Barry Zito or Matt Cain. When things are falling your way, things are falling your way. However, they DO have to contend tonight with Matt Morris, who is off to a sizzling start (2-0, 2.00 ERA), so that’s a tall assignment in itself. … Barry Bonds enters tonight’s game 0-for-9 lifetime against Derek Lowe. … Yhency Brazoban went 1 2/3 innings in his third rehab start for Inland Empire, giving up four runs that were all unearned and striking out three. … Jonathan Meloan who might be in the big leagues by now if the Dodgers didn’t have such an airtight pen, went two scoreless innings for Double-A Jacksonville, getting the win in a 5-2, 10-inning victory over West Tenn last night. Meloan now had a 0.79 ERA. … D.J. Houlton pitched six solid innings for Las Vegas last night, but wound up with no decision. He’s 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA. Don’t be surprised if he gets called up at some point during the season. … Perfect day at the yard, cloudless sky and the San Gabriels are visible, so come on out if you don’t have plans.

Billingsley’s adjustment … or lack thereof

I wasn’t in the clubhouse after the game today, but Matt Kredell, who is covering the game for tomorrow’s Daily News, told me that Chad Billingsley did admit that he is struggling to adjust to pitching out of the pen. By no means was he trying to make the case for a starting job. He was simply saying that he hasn’t made the adjustment as quickly as he would have liked. The bottom line is, he is trying, and his heart is in it. But he also is a career starter, and you have to wonder if he wouldn’t be better off doing that, even if it means going to the minors. The flip side is that unless he can pitch out of the pen, there doesn’t seem to be another spot available to him in the majors for now. Even if Jason Schmidt doesn’t come back for a while, Grady has given that rotation spot to Mark Hendrickson for the time being. And there is no compelling reason (not yet, anyway) to take Brett Tomko out of the rotation. … I really like the song they’re playing at Dodger Stadium this year when the Dodgers go to the bottom of the ninth trailing. The song is Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, which I believe was released in about 1984 because I went into my senior year of high school that fall and we used to drive around campus at lunch time with the windows rolled down and that song just blasting on the stereo. Cassettes, of course. Talk about fond memories. I went to the same high school in Arkansas that more recently produced Mitch Mustain, the hot shot QB who appears to be transferring to USC from Arkansas.

Pirates 7, Dodgers 5

Those two runs Billingsley gave up in the seventh proved to be the difference. Or, the two unearned runs that resulted from the three errors proved to be the difference. Or the eight runners the Dodgers left on base, four of them in scoring position, proved to be the difference. PIck whatever reason you want. The boys rallied for two in the eighth to pull within two, but their ninth-inning rally fell short when Jeff Kent, capping an 0-for-5 day, grounded to third with runners on first and second. Dodgers fall to 13-6, but keep their two-game lead over the Pads. Not sure if I’ll post on the off-day, but I’ll try.