Chris Capuano struck out seven in his first home game with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who scored all of their runs in the first inning against Jeff Karstens and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 on Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.
The Dodgers’ 6-1 start is their best since 1988, when they won their last pennant and World Series.
Capuano (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits with no walks in 5 1-3 innings. The 33-year-old right-hander struck out five of his first eight batters, four of them on called third strikes with umpire Wally Bell working the plate.
Javy Guerra, the sixth Dodgers pitcher, pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in five attempts – all in a span of eight days.
Karstens (0-1) gave up seven hits, struck out three and walked one. Last season, the right-hander had a streak of 18 consecutive starts in which he was charged with no more than three earned runs and was only 7-5 during that stretch – which began with his second start after being inserted into the rotation.
Andrew McCutchen, who had three hits for the Pirates, was stranded at third base in the first and fourth innings. The Pirates finally got him home in the sixth with a sacrifice fly by Yamaico Navarro, after McCutchen led off with a single and took third on Casey McGehee’s base hit.
Capuano was lifted after the sac fly. Mike MacDougal’s two-out walk to Mike McKenry loaded the bases, but lefty Scott Elbert came out of the bullpen and retired pinch hitter Matt Hague on a line drive to center fielder Matt Kemp.
Andre Ethier, who drove in the deciding run in each of the first two games of the series with a home run and RBI single, was hit in the back by the first pitch he saw from Karstens in the first inning after the Dodgers got a one-out single by Mark Ellis and a double by Kemp.
Juan Rivera drove in Ellis with a sacrifice fly, and the Dodgers made it 3-0 on RBI singles from James Loney and Juan Uribe. Loney’s hit ended an 0-for-16 drought, his longest to start a season in his seven-year career.
McKenry, Pittsburgh’s No. 8 hitter, hit a drive to center in the fifth for the Pirates’ third homer in their first six games.
Notes: Los Angeles’ pitchers had a 25-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in this series before MacDougal’s walk to McKenry. The last time the Dodgers’ staff went an entire three-game series without issuing a base on balls was in July 1940, against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. … The Dodgers are 60-23 against Pittsburgh since the 2002 season, which was the last time the Pirates won a season series from them. … Dodgers LHP Ted Lilly is expected to come off the disabled list Saturday and make his season debut against San Diego after being sidelined with a neck problem. … Capuano was 4-7 with a 6.09 ERA in his 15 previous career starts against Pittsburgh. … Dodgers leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, whose job is to hit the ball on the ground and use his speed, flied out his first three times up. In the second inning, he sent CF McCutchen to the warning track. … Five of Pittsburgh’s first six games have been decided by one run. The Pirates lost 4-1 Wednesday night.