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PIT@LAD: Billingsley allows one run over six innings

Matt Kemp is the toughest out in baseball right now.

The Dodgers' center fielder, who has hit safely in 10 consecutive games, hit his Major League-leading ninth home run in Saturday's 5-1 win over the Astros. Kemp's .474 batting average is also tops in baseball, as are his .523 on-base percentage, 1.018 slugging percentage and 22 RBIs.

"He's been pretty dynamic," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously guys get hot during the season. Starting the year like this, especially coming out of Spring Training, he really wasn't swinging that well. Everybody was worried."

Kemp has had decent success in his career against Houston hurler Wandy Rodriguez, who will start Sunday, though Kemp's .278 average and one homer in 18 at-bats against the southpaw pale in comparison to the damage he's inflicted upon the rest of the league through the first 15 games.

Kemp and the rest of the Dodgers, who are going for a three-game sweep, catch Rodriguez while he's pitching well. The 33-year-old is 0-2 in three starts, but has allowed just four earned runs in 18 1/3 innings, good for a 1.96 ERA.

In his last outing, Rodriguez yielded just one run in seven innings against the Nationals.

"That's the guy that we all know, and we all love to have him pitch like that," Astros skipper Brad Mills said.

Dodgers: Billingsley off to dominant start
• Right-hander Chad Billingsley, who will start Sunday against Houston, has channeled his inner Clayton Kershaw this season, pitching like a Cy Young Award candidate in his three starts. Billingsley is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA and has struck out 17 in 20 1/3 innings.

Billingsley is 4-3 with a 4.29 ERA in his career against the Astros.

• Third baseman Juan Uribe is expected to return to the starting lineup on Sunday. The veteran has missed the last two games with an inflamed left wrist.

Astros: Mills sees defensive progress
• Houston made four errors in each of Rodriguez's first two starts, contributing to four unearned runs given up by the left-hander. However, Mills said that the defense has since improved.

"It has been pretty good if you throw out those two games," the manager said. "When you commit eight errors in two games, it's legitimate to ask what happened. It was a couple of different things we went through and hopefully we have improved. We can't continue to have four errors every five days and expect to be real consistent. I think we've gotten a lot better."

The Astros have made 12 errors in their 15 games.

• Travis Buck hasn't played since straining his hamstring on Wednesday. The outfielder was available to pinch-hit on Saturday, but didn't appear in the game.

"I'm slowly but surely getting better," said Buck, who is hitting .273 in 22 at-bats. "There was still some discomfort when I took batting practice [Friday]."

Buck took batting practice before Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Dodgers.

"You have to play a little smart," Buck said. "It's going to be tough to pull it back. But I should be able to put together a productive at-bat and swing with no restrictions."

Worth noting
• Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, hitting .293 with 21 RBIs, has a .176 career batting average (3-for-17) against Rodriguez.

• Houston has lost six of seven and nine of 11. Comments