LOS ANGELES - On an afternoon of Dodger Stadium firsts - first game there of the new season, first time a Dodgers player hit for the cycle there, first win ever there over a certain future Hall of Fame left-hander - the Dodgers also gave the biggest paid audience in the ballpark's history its first look at what this lineup is capable of and what club officials hope it will produce on a regular basis over the next six months.
And in an 11-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday, Chad Billingsley showed the crowd of 57,099 that this team is capable of some dominating pitching, too.
The Dodgers got an infield single, solo homer, RBI double and leadoff triple from newly signed second baseman Orlando Hudson, the first cycle by a Dodgers player since Wes Parker in 1970 and the first by a Dodgers player ever at Chavez Ravine. They got two home runs and four RBIs from Andre Ethier, the second time in the right fielder's young career that he has gone yard twice in a game. And they got their second 11-run outburst in their past three games, this time on a season-high 15 hits.
But behind all that headline-grabbing bombast, the Dodgers also got a show-stopping performance from Billingsley, quite possibly one of the budding right-hander's finest.
"That was the best I have seen him throw," Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand said.
"The breaking ball kept getting better, and he was throwing it for strikes."
Billingsley's effort included a characteristic 11 strikeouts, an uncharacteristic zero walks, and the sort of complete control of a game that used to be a hallmark of Billingsley's mound opponent on Monday. Giants left-hander Randy Johnson came into the game with a 7-0 record and 2.06 ERA in 11 previous career starts at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers obliterated that unblemished mark, though, by hanging seven runs on the five- time Cy Young Award-winning Johnson and chasing him off the field with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. The resulting six-run lead left Billingsley free to relax and just be himself.
"The way these guys are swinging the bats is absolutely great," Billingsley said.
"When you have guys who can hit for the cycle, guys who can hit two home runs and guys who can come up with big two-out hits to score runs, it makes it a lot easier to pitch.
"Our lineup is capable of unbelievable things, and it would be good if we could do that every day."
The Dodgers probably aren't going to score 11 runs every day, especially in a division where they routinely will have to face the likes of Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy. But this lineup clearly is the class of the NL West, if not the National League.
Through eight games, the Dodgers are hitting .266, which isn't exactly eye-popping, but they have a .360 on-base percentage, which largely is the result of their having already drawn 40 walks. And with two outs and runners in scoring position, a situation in which they seemed to rarely come through in recent years, they are hitting .308 (12-for-39).
"We have had a couple of good games," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "Guys are starting to get their timing down and starting to figure out what they need to do up there.
"We should be able to wear pitchers down because of the quality of hitters in our lineup. There isn't an easy out, and there isn't a break, except when the pitchers come up, and they have been doing a great job too."
Martin was being charitable - Dodgers pitchers are a combined 2-for-15, including Billingsley's fifth-inning single off Giants reliever Brandon Medders - but his point wasn't lost. It sounds like a cliche, but it repeatedly has been proven that hitting is contagious, and the Dodgers have been passing it around like a virus lately.
And taking advantage of whatever is in front of them.
"Anytime you think of Randy Johnson, you're thinking 95-96 mile-an-hour fastball," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
"But he threw a lot of breaking balls. I was happy we were able to adjust and use the whole field."
What also has to make Torre happy is during this season-high three-game winning streak, the Dodgers (5-3) have allowed a total of four runs.
None of the three pitchers who started those games - Eric Stults, Randy Wolf and Billingsley (2-0) - allowed more than one, and Wolf and Billingsley each went seven innings.