LOS ANGELES -- Chris Capuano continued to dazzle over seven strong innings, limiting the Houston Astros to a run on two hits, and the Los Angeles Dodgers stayed on a roll, defeating the Houston Astros 5-1 before 33,306 on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
Capuano, the veteran left-hander whom the Dodgers signed last winter to fill the fifth spot in their starting rotation but who instead has become arguably their most reliable starter thus far, improved to 7-1 and shaved his ERA to 2.14 -- less than half the career mark of 4.39 he brought into the season.
This time, Capuano gave up a leadoff triple to Jose Altuve on his first pitch of the game -- Altuve subsequently scored on a groundout by Jed Lowrie -- and then didn't allow another hit until the sixth inning, retiring 17 of the next 18 batters.
Meanwhile, infielder Jerry Hairston went 5-for-5 with a double and a run scored and an RBI and now is 7-for-9 since being activated on Friday from the 15-day disabled list, where he had been nursing a strained left hamstring.
The Dodgers improved baseball's best record to 32-15 and maintained their 7 1/2-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
Still streaking. Dodgers second baseman Elian Herrera, who was playing in just his 11th major league game, extended his hitting streak to nine games with a bloop single over the head of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve in the first inning.
Heating up. Don't look now, but Dee Gordon suddenly has a five-game hitting streak, an indication his colossal hitting woes might be behind him. Another encouraging sign -- proving once again that you can't steal a base without getting on base -- came in the bottom of the second, when Gordon swiped third on the front end of a double steal with Tony Gwynn. It was Gordon's 13th steal of the season, but his first since May 5 and his first attempt since May 7. He stole another one in the eighth.
No dropoff. Backup catcher Matt Treanor singled to start a game-tying rally in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to six games, then broke the tie with a solo homer to straightaway center leading off the fourth, the second consecutive start for Treanor in which he has homered. Although Treanor isn't going to supplant A.J. Ellis, a potential All-Star, as the Dodgers' primary catcher, there hasn't been much of a dropoff lately whenever Treanor has started behind the plate. Between the two of them, Ellis and Treanor are hitting .358 in May, with a five doubles, a triple, six home runs and 20 RBI.
Opportunity knocks. The Dodgers went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position -- including 1-for-13 through the first seven innings, with nine strikeouts and a doubleplay grounder. They stranded at least one runner in scoring position in six of the first seven innings, a point in the game when Capuano might have benefited from a little more breathing room. Ethier, Gwynn and Herrera were among the biggest culprits, Ethier striking out three times with a runner in scoring position and Gwynn and Herrera doing so twice each -- although Gwynn did get two of the three hits in those situations, a two-out single through the left side that brought in Treanor from second to tie the game in the second and a one-out liner to center to bring home Dee Gordon with the Dodgers' final run in the eighth.
Letdown. Scott Van Slyke's offensive performance has fallen off the proverbial table in the week since his game-winning, three-run, pinch-hit home run against the St. Louis Cardinals. In six subsequent games, Van Slyke now is 0-for-13 with six strikeouts and likely will be headed back to Triple-A Albuquerque sometime this week, either when Matt Kemp comes off the disabled list on Tuesday or when Juan Rivera follows Kemp, probably on Thursday.
Not streaking. Ethier's six-game hitting streak ended in spectacular fashion, the Dodgers right fielder going 0-for-5. He struck out with runners on first and second in the first, struck out again with a runner on second in the third, grounded into a double play following a leadoff bunt single by Hairston in the fifth. Ethier would have grounded into another double play in the seventh, but the ball went right through the legs of Astros third baseman Chris Johnson. Finally, Ethier struck out a third time, again with a runner in scoring position, in the bottom of the eighth.