No Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Ellis, or Juan Uribe. The fifth starter on the mound. The Cubs starting a guy with a 3.75 ERA and coming off of seven shutout innings.
The Dodgers got a great start from Chris Capuano, three hits in the leadoff spot from Carl Crawford, and the usual dazzling display from Yasiel Puig as they beat the Cubs, 3-0. The win sets a franchise record with 13 consecutive road wins. Think of all of the great Dodger teams from the past, and this current version still set a record. That's very impressive.
Both teams put runners on in the first couple of innings, but came up empty. In the third, the Dodgers got on the board. Puig bunted his way on down the third base line with one out. A single to right by Andre Ethier got the hustling Puig to third, who then scored on Jerry Hairston's RBI single to right, and it was 1-0.
The Dodgers had a great chance of blowing the game open in the fourth, as the bases were loaded on a walk to Skip Schumaker, a hit-by-pitch to Scott Van Slyke (who started for Gonzalez at first), and an error that allowed Capuano to reach. But, Crawford and Puig both struck out, which eerily flashed us all back to earlier in the year when the Dodgers were clueless in these situations. Things have slightly changed since then, I'm happy to say.
Of course, it also helps that the Cubs were even worse with runners on, as Starlin Castro's double play ended the fourth. And a double play by Darwin Barney ended the fifth. And a double play by Cody Ransom ended the seventh. Basically, if it can go wrong for the Cubs, it does.
It was still a one-run game entering the sixth. The bottom of the order again got on base, as Schumaker took another walk, and Tim Federowicz doubled with one out. Now with two outs, Crawford had another chance to deliver, and he did with a two-run single to center, making it 3-0.
Spotted a three-run lead, Capuano ran into a bit of trouble in the seventh when Welington Castillo doubled leading off and Nate Schierholtz singled with one out. Brandon League relieved, and he continued to slowly turn his season around by inducing the double play from Ransom to escape unharmed.
The biggest moment of the game came in the bottom of the eighth. The Cubs loaded the bases when David DeJesus and Cole Gillespie singled off of Ronald Belisario. Paco Rodriguez relieved and walked Anthony Rizzo, which I guess was OK considering Rizzo homered off him on Thursday.
With the bases juiced and a 3-2 count to Castillo, the next pitch represented the direction both of these teams are going. Rodriguez struck him out on a pitch that was low and would've been ball four. Once again, the Dodgers made the big play when they needed to, and the Cubs flopped miserably.
Kenley Jansen pitched another perfect ninth, including two strikeouts, for his 16th save.
Capuano ended up hurling 6 1/3 innings for six hits, no runs, one walk, and five strikeouts. He continues his impressive turnaround, as 10 starts ago he was rocked by the Cardinals in a 7-0 loss and had a 5.60 ERA. Since then he's had four starts of 6+ innings of scoreless ball, lowing his ERA to 4.16. He's definitely a streaky player, but he looks good right now, so the Dodgers will ride him as long as they can.
The other story (and I know this will shock you) is Puig. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with a run and a walk. His hustle to third in the third was big in getting that first run on Hairston's single.
In the field, he was all over the place. Early in the game, he darn near knocked himself out by crashing into the wall in foul territory in right, and at the same time nearly made a juggling catch before the umpires correctly ruled the ball bounced off the wall. In the seventh, his diving catch off Starlin Castro's bat came in between the hits from Castillo and Schierholtz, which eventually led to Ransom's double play.
Puig also hurt his hand on that dive, and had to come out of the game. He's listed as day-to-day with a bruised thumb. Knowing him, he'll want to play Sunday, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Don Mattingly give him a day off to get ready for the Cardinals on Monday.
The Dodgers' run of 30-7 and 13-2 since the All-Star break is something that continues to be more and more impressive by the day. It's almost hard to believe that before this road winning streak started, they were actually eight games under .500 away from home. Not anymore. I guess a little health, a lot of pitching, and the ability to rise to the occasion can turn things around.
Now the Dodgers will look to keep adding to their record as they go for a four-game sweep in Wrigley Field. Stephen Fife is expected to activated from the 15-day DL as Mattingly will push everyone back a day. Who will then get the boot if that does happen? Carlos Marmol? Chris Withrow? We shall see.