The Dodgers just claimed Esteban Loaiza off waivers from Oakland, and this is a significant pickup. The veteran right-hander is a two-time All-Star, and he is signed through next season with a club option for 2009, so he figures to be in the Dodgers’ starting rotation through next season. He has a three-year, $21.375M contract, which means the Dodgers will be on the hook for about $8.5M even if they don’t pick up the option. Loaiza missed the first 4 1/2 months of the season with the A’s because of injuries, first a bulging disk and later surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he was solid in the two starts he made since coming back, both of them against Toronto. He pitched a total of 14 2/3 innings, giving up just three earned runs on 10 hits. No word as to when he will start for the Dodgers, but his last start was on Monday night, so my guess is he’ll be slotted somewhere into the San Diego series, possibly on Saturday night to give Lowe and Billingsley an extra day of rest. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers moved Jason Repko to the 60-day DL. There won’t be a 25-man move until he shows up on Friday.
The boys scratched out a run on a sac fly by Ethier in the seventh inning, and Broxton and Saito set down the final six in a row, getting a win for Billingsley. Billingsley improved to 9-4, and for all the criticism this guy has taken for deep counts, high pitch totals and short outings, he has really had a pretty good first full season in the bigs. Saito, who has been as good these past few appearances as he has been in the two years he has been here, got his 36th save, moving him past Todd Worrell for the sixth-highest single-season total in franchise history, and he tied Charlie Hough for ninth place on the career franchise list with 60. He has now converted 13 save opportunities in a row and has allowed just one run in 12 1/3 innings this month. Dodgers go to 69-63 and pick up a game in the division because the Pods beat the Snakes. Dodgers are now 4 1/2 behind the Snakes and 3 1/2 behind the Pods. As for the wild card, still 3 1/2 behind the Pods and half a game behind the Phils.
Jeff Kent hit his 362nd career home run, moving him into a tie with Jason Giambi for 65th place on the all-time list and pst Joe DiMaggio. But Billingsley is just sort of muddling through. He is falling behind in a lot of counts, like he usually does. But he has gotten out of a couple of tight spots, including getting Ronnie Belliard to pop up with the bases loaded to end the first after Bills had hit the previous two batters and getting Austin Kearns to GIDP with runners on first and second to end the third. … Dodgers 3, Nationals 2, middle 4