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Dodgers finish sweep of Pirates with 3-2 win

They finish sweep of Pirates and are a major league-best 6-1 by taking advantage of a struggling set of opponents.

April 12, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

How the Dodgers will fare against the National League's top teams remains a mystery.

But one week into the regular season, this much is already clear: They can dominate teams short on talent, experience and money.

The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the severely underfunded Pittsburgh Pirates with a 3-2 victory on Thursday night, improving their major league-leading record to 6-1.

Next to visit Dodger Stadium will be the even worse San Diego Padres, from whom the Dodgers took three of four games in their season-opening series at Petco Park.

"I'm happy we've been able to get these games," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn't matter who they're coming against."

The last time the Dodgers won six of their first seven games was in 1981, when they went on to win the World Series.

By the end of this month, the Dodgers will have played 23 games. Of them, only six will have been against teams that finished better than .500 last season: three on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers, who lost Prince Fielder over the winter, and three at home against the Atlanta Braves, who blew an 81/2-game lead in the wild-card race last September.

"We have to treat every team the same," outfielder Matt Kemp said. Of the Pirates and Padres, Kemp said, "Yeah, they are young. But they're not in the big leagues for no reason. They can play baseball."

Mattingly also discounted the notion that their record was a reflection of their soft schedule.

"Early in the year, it's tough to win games because it doesn't matter what people think you're supposed to be," Mattingly said. "You can put things on paper all you want but you've got to go out and play."

He pointed to how the Pirates were in first place in the NL Central as late as July last season. Or how the Arizona Diamondbacks went from last in the NL West in 2010 to first in 2011.

Baseball's unpredictability was perhaps best illustrated in the Dodgers' three-run first inning.

After Juan Rivera drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly, James Loney and Juan Uribe hit back-to-back run-scoring singles.

For Loney, the hit was his first of the season. For Uribe, the run batted in was his first.

As was the case in his previous start, newcomer Chris Capuano was brilliant in the early innings only to falter in the middle.

Capuano gave up a solo home run to Michael McKenry in the fifth inning. The left-hander gave up back-to-back singles and a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning that closed the gap to 3-2 and ended his night.

"I probably tightened up a little bit," Capuano said.

Capuano was charged with two runs and six hits in 51/3 innings, which was enough for him to earn his first victory with his new team.

But, he conceded, "That's a win the bullpen deserved credit for there."

Scott Elbert forced Matt Hague to line out in the sixth inning with two outs and the bases loaded.

Josh Lindblom pitched a scoreless seventh and Matt Guerrier a scoreless eighth.

That led to closer Javy Guerra, who once again came out to mariachi music that galvanized the modestly-sized crowd.

Guerra pitched a perfect inning to record his third save in as many days. The save was his fifth, most in the majors.

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