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Originally published Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 11:43 PM

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Pirates handcuffed by Billingsley in Bucs' loss

It took Clint Barmes a little longer than usual to get his first hit of the season. It was a home run off Chad Billingsley, who didn't let the Pittsburgh Pirates get anyone else across the plate.

The Associated Press

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It took Clint Barmes a little longer than usual to get his first hit of the season. It was a home run off Chad Billingsley, who didn't let the Pittsburgh Pirates get anyone else across the plate.

Billingsley improved to 6-1 lifetime against the Pirates with six strong innings, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night. Andre Ethier chased Eric Bedard with a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth, and Juan Rivera had a pair of RBI singles among his three hits.

Barmes, who was reunited with former Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle after signing a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Pirates in November, drove Billingsley's first pitch of the third inning over the left field fence to open the scoring. The 10-year veteran shortstop had been hitless in his first 12 at-bats, his longest drought to begin a season.

"Hopefully, the continuity of us being together again will help. But time will tell," Hurdle said. "The good part of it is that he's committed to us, we've committed to him and he fits in well in the clubhouse. I know that the contract obviously carries its own weight. But he has the mentality and the makeup of a guy we were looking for, and I think he understand that the mix here was something he could feed off of and be a part of seamlessly."

Barmes, who helped Hurdle and the Rockies win a pennant in 2007, hasn't batted over .245 in any season since hitting a career-best .290 in 2008. The following year he set career highs with 23 homers and 76 RBIs, after the Rockies fired Hurdle 46 games into the schedule.

"He was still figuring some things out when he came up through our minor league system in Colorado, and he grew up before my eyes," Hurdle said. "I was very proud of the way he was able to play after I was let go there - and actually, he probably played his best ball after I left. He's a blue-collar kid and he plays the game to win.

"Usually the biggest challenge for somebody coming from one organization to the next is that you want to make an impact," Hurdle added. "You want to show right away that you are worthy and you're here for all the right reasons. Right now he's trying to show everybody that he belongs."

The same could be said for Bedard (0-2), who is still looking for his first NL win after a hard-luck 1-0 loss to Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay last Thursday at Pittsburgh. The Canadian-born left-hander gave up two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings and struck out three.

"I thought he did well. He mixed up his pitches and gave up some tough hits, but he was able to work his way out of it most of the time," catcher Rod Barajas said. "That's what you like about him. He competes and he never gives in. He believes in himself and that makes it easier for me to call the game, because I know I can put down whatever signs and he's comfortable throwing it. The only thing we didn't really have working for us tonight was the changeup. He never seemed to get a feel for it."

The Dodgers opened the sixth with singles by Matt Kemp and Rivera, whose slow bouncer to the right of the mound deflected off Bedard's glove as he tried to backhand it. Ethier then lined a 3-1 pitch the other way to left field, scoring Kemp and giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

"I kind of gave away an at-bat my second time up when I was in an RBI situation and didn't make the most of it," Ethier said. "So I just tried to make it simple my next time up. Fortunately, I worked myself into a good hitter's count, used my hands and got a good pitch over the middle of the plate."

Billingsley (2-0) allowed five hits, struck out four and walked none to help the Dodgers improve to 5-1. Last Friday, the right-hander pitched 8 1-3 innings of three-hit ball and struck out 11 last Friday in a 6-0 win at San Diego.

Matt Guerrier and Kenley Jansen each pitched a scoreless inning for the Dodgers and Javy Guerra worked a perfect ninth for his fourth straight save.

NOTES: Bedard was 8-4 with a 1.79 ERA in 19 career interleague starts against the NL while he was with Baltimore and Seattle. ... The Pirates' first four games were decided by one-run margins. They have never started a season with five straight one-run decisions in the franchise's 131-year history, which began in 1882 as the Alleghenys. ... Clayton Kershaw was presented with his Cy Young Award on the field before the game by former Dodger Fernando Valenzuela, who won it in 1981 as a rookie.

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