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Saturday, May 5, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Kemp is a hit with glove

By Christina Kahrl | ESPN.com

The good: Chris Capuano blanked the Cubs on three hits through seven innings in his best start yet for the Dodgers, and his fourth consecutive quality start, and raising his record to 4-1. He was especially sharp early, notching six strikeouts in the Cubs’ first 15 plate appearances on the day. He added a seventh K in the seventh when he made the sale to home-plate ump against Darwin Barney for his fourth called strikeout of the day. He fired strikes on 70 of his 100 pitches, and after pitching out a first-inning bases-loaded jam, he never even remotely looked like he was in any kind of trouble, never allowing a runner past first base for the next six innings.

Wait, you think that’s all that Capuano did to the Cubs? He also contributed to his own cause by ripping a two-out, two-run double in the second inning to drive in two runs while getting his first hit as a Dodger. It wasn’t a scoring decision or a defensive misplay -- Capuano simply laced a hard-hit ball to center to plate Bobby Abreu and James Loney and expand the Dodgers’ lead to 3-0.

Matt Kemp’s tumbling play to snag Geovany Soto’s liner to center field to end the seventh inning was gem-worthy, but we’ll see what Web Gems does with it on Baseball Tonight. Soto was the last batter Capuano had to face before calling it a day.

The not-so-good: Matt Kemp didn’t do much damage at the plate, flying out to center and right field all afternoon. That said, he did plate Dee Gordon in the fifth on a sac fly, so even Kemp’s “bad” days at the plate involve scoring somebody somehow. (So far this season, Kemp has had just two games in which he didn’t drive in or score a run.) And since Kemp didn’t hit a single ground ball, the Cubs’ infield shift added nothing to their day, and took nothing from Kemp’s.

Dee Gordon and Jerry Hairston Jr. didn’t seem to communicate very well on the first play of the game on defense, leading to an error when Gordon called for, then dropped David DeJesus’ popup to the left side of the infield. Hairston might have been more helpful about getting out the way on the play, and certainly a foggy day in Wrigleyville didn’t help any, but it was one of those brain-cramp plays that you hate to see.

James Loney was effectively little more than a spectator on offense, again. If not for Dale Sveum’s decision to hand him an intentional walk in the second with runners on second and third and one out with Matt Treanor and Capuano due next, Loney would have contributed nothing on offense. Given an opportunity to drive in Andre Ethier from second against the Cubs’ struggling former closer Carlos Marmol, he whiffed weakly. Not that Marmol doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but it was the sort of weak conclusion to another bad day for Loney that will probably lead people to ask not whether or not they ought to start looking for help at first base, but when.

Oddments: Bobby Abreu made his first start for the Dodgers in the sort of circumstance that Don Mattingly had outlined: Spot-starting against a right-hander, and in Chris Volstad’s case, a righty with career-long problems with getting left-handed batters out. Abreu’s double to left in the second set up the Dodgers’ first big inning. … Ronald Belisario appeared in his first game since being reactivated from his 25-game suspension, and logged a one-two-three eighth inning, striking out Joe Mather.