CHICAGO — — Clayton Kershaw is the acknowledged ace of the Dodgers' pitching staff but another left-hander in the rotation, Chris Capuano, is holding his own, thank you.
A free agent signed over the off-season, Capuano kept the Chicago Cubs scoreless through seven innings Saturday to lead the Dodgers to a 5-1 win on another cold, windy afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Capuano (4-0) became the first Dodgers starter to earn his fourth win this season, and the 33-year-old now has pitched 182/3 consecutive innings without giving up a run, lowering his earned-run average to 2.21.
And to help his cause, Capuano belted a stand-up double against starter Chris Volstad (0-4) in the second inning that drove in two runs.
"It's been a great start" this season, said Capuano, who scattered three hits, struck out seven and walked two.
Chicago threatened to spoil Capuano's day by loading the bases with one out in the first inning, partly because of a miscue between third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. and shortstop Dee Gordon that resulted in Gordon dropping David DeJesus pop fly. But Capuano struck out Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart.
"I was pumped up getting that last out," Capuano said. "That helped the momentum swing our way a little bit. It's always great when you can get out of a big jam like that early."
Manager Don Mattingly said Capuano has been pitching "like that all year, pretty much every outing has been similar to this."
"The change over the last couple [of starts] is that he's been able to go deeper into the games. The first couple he was getting stuck around the fifth [inning]."
Catcher Matt Treanor said Capuano was "mixing everything on different counts and being very unpredictable" with batters Saturday. "Chris is a really smart guy, knows exactly what he wants to do out there and he's been able to execute."
Treanor's sacrifice fly that drove in Andre Ethier in the second inning gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, and Capuano slugged his double to the right-center field gap to widen the lead to 3-0.
"It was just a first-pitch fastball and that's usually how we pitchers get our hits," Capuano said. "We try to pick a spot where we think we're going to get a fastball and we try to ambush it."
The first-place Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth inning when Treanor singled, moved to second base on Capuano's bunt and scored on Gordon's double down the right-field line.
After Gordon stole third base and Mark Ellis walked, Matt Kemp hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Gordon.
Newly acquired outfielder Bobby Abreu made his first start with the Dodgers and collected his first hit with the club, a double to left field in the second inning.