LOS ANGELES -- Ted Lilly will be disabled with a shoulder injury and replaced as the Dodgers' Tuesday night starting pitcher by Nathan Eovaldi, who will be promoted from Double-A Chattanooga.
It is not known if Lilly will need surgery, but the Dodgers are concerned enough that they were looking for a long-term solution by negotiating with free agent Roy Oswalt before bowing out over his financial demands. Lilly is in the second year of a three-year, $33 million contract.
The initial sign that Lilly's start was in jeopardy was the sudden audible of Eovaldi from a Saturday night start to a one-inning relief tune-up. Eovaldi was called up briefly this year, but did not pitch.
Manager Don Mattingly remained noncommittal when asked if Eovaldi's Saturday appearance (he struck out all three batters he faced) could be a sign of an imminent roster move.
"I guess it could be," he said.
The club's vague explanation on Lilly's situation apparently was to allow negotiations with Oswalt without compromising its leverage by confirming a problem with any current starters, especially if the problem is a serious injury. Oswalt hasn't pitched all year and would need the equivalent of Spring Training.
Lilly's injury explains his first loss, and worst start, of the season Wednesday night in Arizona, where he allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Mattingly did shoot down the suggestion that Eovaldi would move into Chad Billingsley's spot in the rotation. Billingsley battled through five innings Saturday night, allowing two runs with three walks, but also striking out eight. He was in position for his third win until the bullpen let an eighth-inning lead get away.
"Nate's one inning has nothing to do with Bills," said Mattingly. "We've got five guys in the rotation. I don't know why we single out Bills so much."
Mattingly went on to defend Billingsley for "continuing to work on things to be more consistent. Sometimes it's easier said than done.
"I saw in the stats he's one of three pitchers to win 10 games for so many years. Not a lot of guys can say that. It depends where you put the mark. Is he supposed to win 20 games every year? Is it 14, 12?"
Ellis in clubhouse for first time since surgery
LOS ANGELES -- Disabled Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis Sunday made his first appearance in the clubhouse since injuring his left leg nine days ago. He was walking with a limp but without crutches.
Ellis had emergency surgery last Saturday to relieve swelling pressure in the leg and also suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and a bone bruise below the knee from a take-out slide by St. Louis' Tyler Greene.
"When I got hit I thought my leg was broken," said Ellis, who initially was relieved to hear that X-rays were negative, only to be unable to sleep that night because of intense pain. "The next day the leg was hard and didn't feel right, way more pain than there should have been for a take-out slide."
He was taken to a hospital for an MRI, but in the emergency room it was determined that a muscle had been cut, causing bleeding that was trapped by the muscle sheath. Doctors who performed the emergency surgery said he could have lost the leg without it.
"I read that, but never realized it was that bad," he said. "The surgery was something that just had to be done."
Ellis said still unresolved is a slight cartilage tear in the knee. He said even if arthroscopic surgery is performed, it would not seriously lengthen the recovery period that currently is estimated at two months. He has an 8-inch incision down the outside of his leg that is taped and must heal completely, along with the deep bruise.
Gwynn taking advantage while filling in for Kemp
LOS ANGELES -- With Matt Kemp expected to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday's game, Tony Gwynn's playing time will decrease considerably in the near future. Until then, the center fielder is making the most of his opportunity in the lineup.
Gwynn did just that Saturday night when he delivered a key two-run single off Astros starter Bud Norris with two outs in the fourth to give the Dodgers a one-run lead.
"He made some tough pitches early, but in this game we have to be able to capitalize on mistakes and he left a breaking ball over the middle of the plate," Gwynn said. "Although I was coming out and pulling off, my hands stayed on it and I hit it hard enough through the hole."
Gwynn admitted he wasn't his best mechanically Saturday, as he went hitless in four other at-bats. But his two RBIs were pivotal in the 6-3 victory.
The center fielder has gotten a hit in his last nine starts and he has hit .304 in May. As for his future in the lineup once Kemp returns, Gwynn said he's not worried about it and he's simply living his life day to day.
"I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "I'm just trying to have good at-bats every day and sometimes I get one hit and sometimes I get a couple. It's been working out for me so far."
Gordon heats up after return to lineup
LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon's bat has come alive recently since returning to the lineup on May 22 against Arizona. The shortstop has gotten a hit in each of his four games since being benched because of struggles through the beginning of the season.
He hit a double in the fourth inning Saturday night against the Astros, scoring the go-ahead run at the time on a Tony Gwynn single. Gordon finished the night 2-for-4 as the Dodgers won in walk-off fashion, 6-3.
Hitting in the eighth spot instead of leadoff, Gordon has gone 6-for-16 since being benched, and he has raised his batting average 17 points. He was in a 2-for-31 slump, while hitting .200 on the season, before the benching.
He said he's been working on getting his rhythm back and finding ways to get on base since being taken out of the lineup.
"I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm feeling a little better," Gordon said.
Loney delivers after being lifted in key spot
LOS ANGELES -- One night after manager Don Mattingly opted to pinch-hit rookie Ivan De Jesus with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning in place of James Loney, the first baseman delivered offensively to help the Dodgers snap their two-game skid.
Loney collected three hits and two runs in the 6-3 walk-off win against the Astros, as the Dodgers remained the only team in the Majors without a three-game losing streak.
He started things off with a leadoff two-strike single in the fourth inning and scored four batters later on a two-RBI single by Tony Gwynn. He scored again in the ninth on A.J. Ellis' three-run walk-off homer after being intentionally walked with one out and Andre Ethier on second.
As to whether he was shaken the night before after being pinch-hit for with the bases loaded, Loney said: "There's nothing that could ever do that."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.