The good times just keep going for these Los Angeles Dodgers as they completed the four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field to set a new franchise record for consecutive road wins.  Fourteen wins to be exact, breaking the record of 13 set by the 1924 Brooklyn Robins squad that featured Hall-of-Famers Zack Wheat, Dazzy Vance, and Burleigh Grimes.

The Dodgers churned out six runs in each of the first two games of the series, but managed only four runs in the final two games. Buoyed by strong starts from Chris Capuano and Stephen Fife over the weekend and some timely hitting, the Dodgers managed to complete back-t0-back shutouts to seal the series sweep.  Let’s take a look back at the Dodgers trip to Wrigley Field, always one of the most interesting destinations in all of baseball.

STARTING PITCHING

Every Dodgers starter got the victory in this series as Capuano and Fife were both superb over the weekend. Capuano looked especially sharp on Saturday as he was hitting both corners of the strike zone consistently and his breaking ball was sharp.

Fife was equally as impressive Sunday hurling 5 1/3 shutout innings in his first start since July 6.  Ricky Nolasco and Hyun-Jin Ryu didn’t have their best stuff, but both kept the Dodgers in the game until the offense took over. Nolasco fell victim to the long ball in Thursday night’s series opener and gave up three home runs, two to Cubs rookie phenom Junior Lake.

Lake drove the ball all over the outfield in the series, going 7-13 in the first three games of the series, before going 0-4 in Sunday’s finale.  Nolasco left the game after the 5th, with the Dodgers trailing 3-2, but a three-run sixth inning by the Dodgers gave Nolasco (7-9) the win.

The Cubs tagged Ryu for 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings on Friday afternoon, but he somehow escaped allowing only two runs. With the Dodgers offense backing Ryu with six runs, the Korean lefty improved to 10-3 on the season.  He becomes the first Dodgers rookie pitcher to reach ten wins since Kazuhisa Ishii did so in 2002.

With Fife coming up on Sunday, all of the Dodgers starters will get an extra day of rest. Don Mattingly has said a six-man rotation is not in the long-term plan, so it will be interesting to see who stays in the rotation between Capuano and Fife.

THE BULLPEN

Enough can’t be made of how great the Dodgers bullpen has been throwing collectively as the ‘pen allowed only one run in 14 innings of work in Chicago this weekend.  Kenley Jansen also converted all three of his save opportunities, without allowing a single base runner.  In fact, Jansen hasn’t allowed a base runner since July 23 at Toronto, eight consecutive appearances.

Dodgers relievers had a 1.90 ERA in the month of a July, a big reason for the team’s resurgence. The Dodgers are now 14-2 since the All-Star break and every reliever appears to be very comfortable in their role.

Jansen and Ronald Belisario gave up only four earned runs in 26 innings of work in July (1.38 ERA) while J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez have been shutting down every lefty in sight (.153 BAA). Even Brandon League lowered his ERA from 6.37 to 4.91 since the Fourth of July.

Basically, everything is going right for the Dodgers from the seventh inning on, and that can be crucial for a team heading down the stretch.

INJURIES PERSIST

Things have been going so well for the Dodgers it’s hard to believe that injuries continue to rear their ugly head.  However, that’s exactly what happened over the weekend as L.A. saw both Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez leave games early with injury.

Puig injured his wrist on a sliding catch in Saturday’s game and had to leave the game in the eighth inning. He was seen  wearing a wrist brace after the game, but Mattingly said he anticipates Puig back in the lineup Monday.

Ramirez went down Sunday after crashing into the stands chasing a foul ball in the seventh inning. Hanley jammed his shoulder was clearly in pain and will undergo an MRI on Monday that will likely in him missing a few days.  The team will be hard pressed to replace Ramirez’s .361 average and 11 home runs, but also said they don’t expect Matt Kemp until September.

The Dodgers will head immediately to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals for a four game series.  The Cards own the National League’s third best record at 65-45, but they’ve lost seven of their past ten games, falling to second place in the NL Central.

However, the Cards have regained traction taking two of three from the Cincinnati Reds and scoring double digit runs in three of their past four games after a six-game losing streak.  Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.43 ERA) will take the mound Monday against Cardinals ace and Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright (13-6, 2.61 ERA).  Greinke is 7-3 with a career 3.13 ERA against the Cardinals.

 

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