When they lost Manny Ramirez, it seemed to have tripped some psychological switch, although no one thought they would continue to hit .315 and score over six runs a game and they haven't.
Sunday, the game was over before most of the 18,000-plus fans settled into their seats. The Dodgers squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation and a hit and a walk gave Washington their only run of the game.
Other than a diving catch in right field by Washington's Justin Maxwell with James Loney on second base with a double in the ninth, neither team even made a serious threat.
Billingsley, who has been criticized since the middle of the 2009 season, gave a boffo performance. Even the single run he allowed in the first innings wasn't too dramatic, although by the end of the game it stood out like an iceberg in the path of the Titanic, with much the same result.
The Dodgers led the Nats in hits, 7-5, had eight runners in scoring position and left more runners on base.
They were throttled by lefty Scott Olson, who came into the game 0-1 with an earned run average just below 12.00. After seven scoreless innings his ERA is 6.14.
It was the third ... well ... nondescript starter to handle them pretty much with ease during their stay in Washington. Olson's win was his first since last July 5th. Olsen (1-1) allowed six hits, walked one and struck out eight in his third start since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on April 15.
After Rafael Furcal left to left field to open the game, the Dodgers loaded the bases in the on consecutive singles to center by Russell Martin, Matt Kemp and James Loney. Then Casey Blake struck out and Ronnie Belliard, playing second base with a left-handed pitcher, flew to short center. Olson allowed only one runner to reach second base after that, on Blake's one-out double in the fifth.
Washington took what proved to be a commanding lead in its half of the first. Nyjer Morgan led off with a single to short left, Adam Kennedy drew a walk and both runners moved up on Cristian Guzman's sacrifice. Adam Dunn's grounder to second drove in the winning run.
That provided the only offense in Washington's second shutout of the season. The Dodgers were shut out for the second time this year.
Billingsley (1-1) gave up four hits, struck out five and walked two, cutting his ERA to 5.40. He retired 18 of the last 22 Washington batters he faced, using 86 pitches, 55 of them strikes.
Cristian Guzman doubled in the sixth when Kemp called for the ball, but left fielder Garret Anderson didn't back off and the ball fell untouched.
The Dodgers threatened in the ninth, when Loney opened with a double down the left-field line. But Blake bounced to second, right fielder Justin Maxwell made a diving grab of Belliard's fly to short right and Garret Anderson flied out to center.
Torre removed Billingsley for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier who grounded into a double play.
Ramon Troncoso retired six of seven players he faced in the seventh and eighth innings.
"I've been trying to be too fancy out there instead of attacking hitters," Billingsley said after the game. "I think I've been worrying too much about sinking the ball, cutting the ball, doing that kind of stuff. I'm going to attack you with my good four-seamer and my hammer."
Torre was particularly pleased with the way Billingsley's day ended: with a rare display of emotion. "He was upset about coming out," Torre said, "which was wonderful."
On an afternoon such as this, you celebrate little victories.
When Vicente Padilla went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right forearm, reliever Jon Link had already returned to New Orleans with Albuquerque and then had flown to Omaha, Nebraska, for a three-game series.
Albuquerque manager Tim Wallach notified him of his second recall in the three days. Link to grabbed his bag and flew to Washington, arriving on Saturday night.
"I woke up in New Orleans at 3:30 in the morning and landed in Washington at 9:30 at night," said Link. "But I'm prepared for that to be my job this year. When they call me, I'll be ready."