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Big Frank Comes Through

Frank Thomas has been everything the Toronto Blue Jays expected when they signed him in the offseason.

Over the past few days, at least.

With Thomas producing in the middle of the lineup, the Blue Jays come off one of their best performances at the plate this season to face the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night in the decisive game of their series.

Oddsmakers have made Toronto -130 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles +120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Thomas hit his 497th career home run - a grand slam - as Toronto (34-36) beat Los Angeles (40-31) 12-1 on Wednesday night to even the series.

"An at-bat like that can turn your season around," Thomas said.

The Blue Jays' cleanup hitter, signed in the offseason after a big 2006 with Oakland, has two home runs and seven RBIs in his last four games. He had eight home runs and 22 RBIs through his first 64 contests.

Thomas is now just three home runs away from becoming the 21st player to reach 500. He is batting .385 (10-for-26) with four home runs and nine RBIs in 10 career games against Los Angeles.

A big game from Thomas helped the Blue Jays avenge a 10-1 defeat to the Dodgers in the series opener, which was Toronto's most lopsided loss of the season.

The Blue Jays went 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday to match their biggest margin of victory in 2007. They beat Philadelphia 13-2 on May 19.

Shaun Marcum (4-2, 3.41 ERA) was the winning pitcher in that game, and he'll be taking the mound Thursday. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts since being moved into the rotation following 13 relief appearances.

Marcum gave up two runs and three hits while striking out a career-high 11 in seven innings to beat Washington 7-3 on Saturday. He earned a victory against the Dodgers in his previous start, allowing seven hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Blue Jays won 1-0 on June 9.

Marcum has been Toronto's best starter since moving into the rotation, and the Dodgers are hoping Chad Billingsley (4-0, 3.09) can do the same.

After 23 relief appearances, Billingsley is making his first start of the season. He will be taking the place of Jason Schmidt, who had season-ending shoulder surgery Wednesday.

Billingsley, the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2003, was expected to move into the rotation eventually.

"It's time (for him to start)," Los Angeles manager Grady Little told the team's official Web site. "He's ready for it, we're ready for it. It should be a plus for everyone."

Billingsley held the Los Angeles Angels to one hit in two innings in his last appearance, helping the Dodgers earn a 3-0 victory on Saturday.

He went 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 16 starts last season. This will be his first appearance against Toronto.

Billingsley will try to give Los Angeles a boost as it tries to improve its 3-8 record in interleague play. The Dodgers have lost 21 of their last 23 games in American League stadiums.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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