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Billingsley pitches Dodgers past Cardinals 7-3

LOS ANGELES — Chad Billingsley yielded three hits over six strong innings and added an RBI single in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-3 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday night, snapping the Cardinals' five-game winning streak in a meeting of first-place clubs.

Andre Ethier went 3 for 4 with a triple and a late run-scoring double for the Dodgers, who improved the NL's best record to 71-49 with just their fourth win in 11 games.

Billingsley (12-6) missed his previous scheduled start after straining his left hamstring Aug. 7, but returned to shore up a Los Angeles rotation already missing Hiroki Kuroda and Jason Schmidt. The Dodgers' All-Star right-hander has yielded just three earned runs and nine hits in his last three starts.

Manny Ramirez and James Loney had run-scoring singles in the middle innings as seven Dodgers drove in one run apiece during a 14-hit attack. Los Angeles remained 4 games ahead of Colorado atop the NL West despite being two games below .500 since the All-Star break.

Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton has been criticized in Los Angeles after some recent struggles, but he retired Albert Pujols to end an eighth-inning threat before completing a four-out save, his 26th in 30 chances.

Brendan Ryan and Khalil Greene drove in runs for the Cardinals, who have lost just twice in 11 games.

Pujols went 0 for 4 with three inning-ending outs, including a double-play grounder on Billingsley's final pitch. Matt Holliday also went 0 for 4, failing to get a hit for just the third time in 23 games since arriving from Oakland.

St. Louis fell behind 5-0 in the fifth inning before cutting the Dodgers' lead to two runs, but Loney scored on a headfirst slide in the seventh, barely getting his hand under the tag after Russell Martin's double. Ethier added an RBI double in the eighth.

Mitchell Boggs (1-2) gave up nine hits and five runs while failing to escape the fourth inning for the Cardinals, who appeared interested in signing John Smoltz. Boggs is winless in his last six starts for St. Louis, which could entice Smoltz with an immediate rotation spot.

Los Angeles scored its first two runs on four straight hits in the fourth inning. After Rick Ankiel misjudged Martin's double to center, Billingsley drove home Martin when the pitcher's fly dropped between Ankiel and right fielder Ryan Ludwick.

Ethier then led off the fifth with a triple that Ankiel barely missed on a dive, and Ramirez drove him home to kick off a three-run inning.

NOTES: RHP Jeff Weaver will start for the Dodgers against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in place of Hiroki Kuroda, who has a concussion after getting hit in the head by a line drive last weekend. Weaver, a longtime starter, has started six games for Los Angeles this season in spot duty. ... Matt Kemp sat out for the Dodgers with an apparent case of the flu. ... Just one of Broxton's four blown saves occurred at Dodger Stadium.