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James Loney unloads as Dodgers complete sweep of Nationals, 2-0

Chris Capuano has a strong effort for the Dodgers, who capitalize after three walks by Washington's Gio Gonzalez.

April 29, 2012|By Jim Peltz

Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was sailing along against the Dodgers, 25 consecutive scoreless innings under his belt, when suddenly he couldn't find the strike zone.

The left-hander walked three consecutive Dodgers to load the bases in the sixth inning Sunday, and James Loney then poked a single into left field to drive in two runs.

That was all Dodgers starter Chris Capuano and the club's bullpen needed as the Dodgers won, 2-0, giving them a three-game sweep of Washington at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers, at 16-6, also were off to their best 22-game start since 1981 with the victory, which probably was the Dodgers' final home game under Frank McCourt's ownership.

The Dodgers, who had only three hits in the victory, start a six-game trip Monday to Colorado and Chicago, during which the club's sale for a record $2.15 billion is expected to close.

The team also improved to 10 games above .500 for the first time since July 11, 2010.

Loney said he hit a Gonzalez curveball for the game-deciding hit and "was just trying to get a ball to drive, to hit something hard and at least get it to the outfield to get that run."

Gonzalez (1-1) set up the play by walking Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe. His wildness again underlined that although the Nationals have one of baseball's best pitching staffs — they entered the game with a 2.33 earned-run average, lowest in the majors — they can have control problems.

That also was evident the previous night, when Washington closer Henry Rodriguez's three wild pitches in the ninth inning helped the Dodgers tie a game won by Kemp's walk-off home run.

Capuano (3-0), meanwhile, pitched a "just outstanding" game," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.

The left-hander pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out nine Nationals while giving up two walks and three hits, one of them by left fielder Tyler Moore, who was making his major league debut.

Capuano also tried to ignore how Gonzalez was extending his scoreless-inning streak until the Dodgers finally broke through. "I try not to get too caught up with what the other guy is doing, and just focus on making my pitches," Capuano said.

What pitches were working? "I had a pretty decent fastball, and good command of the fastball away from the right-handers, which is good for me," he said.

Josh Lindblom, in another strong outing, took over for Capuano and pitched 1 1/3 innings, and Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth.

Washington's other touted rookie, Bryce Harper, made a dazzling play in the fourth inning on Uribe's deep fly ball to center field. Harper, 19, made a running catch just as he slammed into the wall, which left him momentarily shaken.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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