LOS ANGELES (AP) – Chris Capuano’s scintillating start with the Los Angeles Dodgers has provided quite a boost for a rotation that needed some depth, an ingredient that was sorely missing last season.
Capuano won his fourth straight outing and the Dodgers got home runs from Andre Ethier, Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe to beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3 Friday night and open a six-game lead in the NL West over San Francisco.
“We expected that we were going to get a guy with a lot of different looks and a veteran guy who was going to give you innings and keep you in the game,” Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s a tough guy to scout. He’s got so many different pitches, he’s really hard to prepare for because you never quite know what you’re going to get. He’s been great. He’s 5-0 and has given up hardly any runs. I can’t say I expected that, but I always knew he had great stuff.”
Capuano equaled the best start of his eight-year career, allowing a run and four hits through seven innings with three strikeouts and no walks. The left-hander, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract as a free agent in December, retired 17 of 18 batters during one stretch before Michael Cuddyer hit a two-out solo homer in the seventh on Capuano’s 101st pitch to end his scoreless streak at 24 2-3 innings.
“I knew I had a little streak going there,” Capuano said. “I was in a good spot there with two outs and an 0-2 count on Cuddyer, but I probably didn’t make the best two-strike pitch I could have made there. I threw a little cutter trying to back-door him and it got over the middle.”
Capuano has a 1.46 ERA over his last six starts after giving up four runs in a no-decision on April 7. He also started 5-0 with Milwaukee in 2007, but went 0-10 with a 5.20 ERA over his final 18 starts that season and finished 5-12. Two of the losses were in relief.
“That’s a long time ago. It’s hard to remember back that far,” said Capuano, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2002 and again in 2008. “It’s five years and I’ve gone through so much since then – being away from baseball for two years. I was probably thinking the same things I am now: keep it small and focus on one pitch at a time. I’m feeling as good physically as I ever have, so it’s a lot of fun to go out there and just worry about making pitches and not anything physical. It’s good to be winning.”
Jamie Moyer (1-3) gave up five runs and seven hits over five innings and struck out seven. The 25-year veteran left-hander, who turns 50 in November, is winless in four starts with a 6.43 ERA since breaking former Dodger Jack Quinn’s record as the oldest pitcher to win a major league game.
Moyer, who has given up more home runs than any pitcher in history, served up his 517th to the second batter he faced. Ellis drove a 3-2 pitch into the left-field bullpen for his first homer with the Dodgers, who didn’t get another baserunner until Ethier doubled with two outs in the fourth and scored on Bobby Abreu’s single.
“I faced Ellis a fair amount in the American League, but I hadn’t faced him in a long time,” Moyer said. “Based on the information off him tonight, I wish I’d have pitched him the same way I did when I was in the American League. I made two mistakes and he hit the ball well.”
Los Angeles increased the margin to 5-0 in the fifth with a two-out, two-run double by Ellis and a run-scoring double by Ethier that followed an intentional walk to Kemp.
“Our approach was just to try to see something over the plate and be aggressive, but not so aggressive on stuff that’s falling off the edge of the plate,” Ethier said. “There’s a lot of movement on some of the pitches he’s throwing, so you’re going to swing and miss sometimes. But you’ve got to keep taking your hacks and not be discouraged if you’re swinging through some of those pitches or even strike out.”
Ethier and Uribe added solo homers in the seventh and eighth. Ethier’s seventh of the season increased his NL-best RBI total to 32. The Rockies scored two runs in the ninth against Todd Coffey, who wasn’t able to finish a mop-up inning and threw 23 pitches before Ronald Belisario got the final out.
Moyer is 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA in eight career starts at Dodger Stadium. The first time he pitched here, in his fourth big league start, he didn’t make it out of the first inning – retiring two of the eight batters he faced in the Chicago Cubs’ 11-4 loss to Orel Hershiser on July 10, 1986.
NOTES: The longest streak of consecutive scoreless innings by a Dodgers pitcher last season was 19, by NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and reliever Kenley Jansen. … Abreu’s RBI was his first with the Dodgers, who signed him last Friday after the Angels cut him loose. … Ellis hit six home runs for the Rockies in 70 games last year after spending his first eight-plus big league seasons with Oakland. He had a career-high 19 in 2007, the most by an Athletics second baseman. … Dodgers leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, who wasn’t even born when Moyer made his big league debut, was 0 for 3 against him with two strikeouts and a foul pop.
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