CHICAGO -- The Dodgers have needed to find run production from teammates other than Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, but from Chris Capuano?
The starting pitcher not only put seven scoreless innings on his ledger on Saturday but doubled in a pair of runs as the Dodgers cruised to a 5-1 win over the Cubs. Signed to be the club's fifth starter, Capuano -- 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA and a scoreless-innings streak of 18 2/3 -- is now the biggest winner on the first-place team in the National League West.
"Look out, Orel Hershiser," Capuano joked, referencing the Major League record holder for consecutive scoreless innings. "Only about 40 more."
This was Capuano's fourth consecutive quality start, as he allowed only three hits and two walks, striking out seven while improving to 9-3 in his career against the Cubs. The left-hander made 100 pitches, 70 of which were strikes.
What was he proudest of?
"The first thing I did when I came in," Capuano said, "was watch my hit about 10 times."
The hit came with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning off losing pitcher Chris Volstad, and it reached the center-field wall on two bounces, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. It was the first RBI since 2007 for Capuano, who came into the game 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
But it was Capuano's pitching that kept the Cubs from having a lead in the first inning, when shortstop Dee Gordon called for David DeJesus' leadoff popup before colliding with third baseman Jerry Hairston, letting the ball fall for a two-base error. Capuano allowed a one-out single to Starlin Castro and walked Bryan LaHair to load the bases, then caught Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart with called third strikes.
"I was pumped up to get that last out," Capuano said "It helped the momentum swing our way."
"It was kind of huge," said manager Don Mattingly. "They had a chance to score, and we got out of it. We had a chance in the second inning, and it looked like they got out of it with only one run after [Matt Treanor's] sacrifice fly, when he hits that two-run double and that really put us on top."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum, familiar with Capuano from their time in Milwaukee, wasn't surprised with the lefty's effectiveness at keeping hitters off balance.
"He's able to spot up his fastball inside on the righties late in the count, and his changeup -- he's just had a great changeup all season, and he had it again today," said Sveum. "Keeping it down, he's not hanging anything. He's just been consistent so far. He's been pretty impressive. In crunch time with the bases loaded, he made some pretty good pitches to get out of it."
Los Angeles' three-run second inning included the first hit as a Dodger for Bobby Abreu, who doubled down the left-field line in his first start. Treanor led off the two-run fifth inning with a single and was doubled home by Gordon, who stole third and scored on a Kemp sacrifice fly.
The game also marked the return to action of wayward reliever Ronald Belisario, who missed all last year with personal problems and the first 25 games this year upon testing positive for a drug of abuse.
Belisario pitched a perfect eighth inning in a flashback to his breakthrough rookie season of 2009. He induced two grounders and recorded a strikeout, throwing 11 pitches (eight strikes), and his sinker was clocked at 93 mph.
"If we get the guy from '09, the back-end guy that we can use earlier in the game, it's a real addition," said Mattingly. "It's just another power arm if he's throwing like that -- a big bonus for us."
Belisario said he had no worries or butterflies in his return to the Major Leagues.
"I was real excited, and I just came in throwing strikes," said Belisario, who was activated on Thursday at the cost of designating for assignment Mike MacDougal, who picked up some of Belisario's innings last year. "I felt normal. I felt like I was pitching for a long time. Now, I look forward. This is like ... a new start. I just want to pitch well to help the team."
Before the Dodgers' fifth inning ended, home-plate umpire Tim Timmons ejected former Cubs lefty Ted Lilly for complaining from the Dodgers dugout about a low strike call during Abreu's at-bat.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.