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Davis outduels Billingsley in win

Davis outduels Billingsley in win

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Snyder calls a great game. The D-backs catcher also talks a good one when it comes to the importance of defense and how his main concern is what happens behind the plate rather than at it.

"I can tell you until I'm blue in the face that my main focus is on my defense, which it is," Snyder said. "But come on, who wants to hit .200? Nobody wants to hit .200. I just want to go out there and swing it like everybody else. Don't get me wrong, I love putting up shutouts, but I'd also like to go 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs."

Snyder only got one hit on Friday night, but it was the hit as his eighth-inning home run led the D-backs past the Dodgers, 1-0, in front of 51,582 at Dodger Stadium.

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With the win, the first-place D-backs maintained a 1 1/2 game lead over the Padres and expanded their advantage over the Dodgers to two. It was also the 11th win for Arizona in its past 13 games.

Snyder also got his shutout as D-backs starter Doug Davis had his best game since joining the D-backs before the season. The left-hander had command of all his pitches, as he allowed just three hits and one walk over eight innings.

Unlike most of his outings in which he works very deliberately, Friday's game had a crisp pace to it, and because the Dodgers got just one runner past first, it seemed like Davis was never in trouble even though the game was scoreless affair through seven innings.

"I was sweating out there," said Davis, who raised his record to 8-10. "There wasn't a lot of pressure situations, so that might have made it look a little easier than it was, but I was just executing my pitches. I was able to execute my game plan because I was able to throw every pitch for strikes."

Chad Billingsley was every bit as good as Davis for much of the game, as he matched him zero for zero until the eighth. With Snyder digging in the box to begin the inning, Arizona manager Bob Melvin had Jeff DaVanon in the on-deck circle to pinch-hit for Davis.

Those plans changed though when Snyder hit a 1-0 offering from Billingsley into the seats down the left-field line.

"He didn't make many mistakes today and that was one of the few, and it worked out good for us," Snyder said of Billingsley, who fell to 7-2.

Melvin reversed course after the homer and allowed Davis to hit for himself and after striking out, he retired the Dodgers in order in the eighth.

"He deserved to go out there in the eighth inning," Melvin said.

The ninth inning, though, was a different story. Despite the fact that Davis had thrown 96 pitches and showed no signs of slowing down, Melvin decided to go to closer Jose Valverde for the ninth.

"The ninth inning of a one-run game with the closer that we have I can't let [Davis] go out there and have a couple of baserunners and suddenly there's a chance he could take a loss," Melvin said. "If it was 3-0, maybe I let him go out there, but that's why we have a closer."

Valverde made the decision moot, as he retired the Dodgers in order to pick up his 32nd save, second-most in the NL behind Milwaukee's Francisco Cordero.

"I understand where [Melvin] was coming from," Davis said before breaking into a smile. "But I also want my average of one complete game a year. That's what I told him, that I average one a year and this could be the one."

Speaking of shutouts, the last one Davis threw came against the Dodgers on Sept. 5, 2006, which isn't a surprise given how tough he's been on the boys from LA. In his career against the Dodgers, Davis is 3-1 and has not allowed an earned run in 30 innings over four career starts.

"I didn't really realize what I had done against them before," he said.

Davis suffered a tough-luck loss at Dodger Stadium earlier this year when he allowed one unearned run over seven innings in a 2-1 Arizona loss.

"It is a big field so that might have something to do with it," Davis said of Dodger Stadium. "It's a good infield, too, and I get a lot of ground balls. I don't know what it is, but I'll take it."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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