Dodgers take to air as Nolasco grounds Cubs
Righty limits visitors to three hits, cruises on Hanley, Ethier blasts
By Austin Laymance / 8/28/2013 8:22 PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- Ricky Nolasco doesn't have the same career resume as Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke, but he's pitched just as well this August as the Dodgers' two Cy Young Award winners.
Nolasco fired eight scoreless innings, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier each homered and the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 4-0, on Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium to tie a Los Angeles franchise record with 21 wins in a calendar month.
"Ricky was really good today, just what we needed," said manager Don Mattingly. "Ricky gave us a great outing. Hanley and Andre had big hits."
Since joining the Dodgers in early July, Nolasco is 6-1 in 10 starts. The right-hander has been at the top of his game in August, going 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six outings to stay on par with strong months from Kershaw (1.01 ERA) and Greinke (5-0, 1.23 ERA).
"It definitely feels good to do that at this time for this team," Nolasco said. "I know what's at stake pitching here and chasing a ring."
Nolasco has not allowed a run in his past 16 innings. He struck out 11 on Wednesday -- tied for the most in his career -- walked one and allowed three hits. He credits his success since leaving Miami in part to joining a contender in the Dodgers, who have a comfortable lead over the D-backs in the National League West.
"It definitely is a different feeling when you're going out there pitching for this team right now with this lineup going and how dangerous we are," Nolasco said. "I'm making better pitches. Mentally, I'm more focused."
Has following Kershaw and Greinke in the rotation benefitted Nolasco?
"Hopefully," Nolasco said. "Pitching and winning is contagious, and you just want to keep it going. Just to be in the same rotation as those guys is an honor, and to do anything to follow them up is great."
The Cubs certainly didn't see much of a difference between Nolasco and Greinke, who tossed 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball to beat Chicago on Monday.
"He was real tough," said Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic. "He's really similar to the way Greinke pitched the other night, just constant mixing of four pitches, and never patterned into certain pitches or certain counts in situations. You could never look for anything in particular, you had to battle from the first pitch. He's pitching as well as anybody right now -- there's no days off, no comfortable at-bats."
Kenley Jansen struck out three and walked one in the ninth to complete the Dodgers' 19th shutout, which leads the Major Leagues. Jansen has been dominant in the second half with a 0.93 ERA in 19 games, while holding opponents to a .065 average and striking out 30.
Ramirez crushed the first pitch he saw from former Dodgers starter Edwin Jackson, depositing it in the left-field pavilion for his 15th homer of the season. The Dodgers estimated the home run at 417 feet. The shortstop is 23-for-46 (.500) with seven homers and 18 RBIs this season when he swings at the first pitch. Ramirez has three homers during the six games on the homestand.
Ethier launched a 1-1 pitch from Jackson to right in the fourth to reach 10 homers for the eighth consecutive season. The outfielder is hitting .308 with four doubles, one triple, three homers and 11 RBIs in 25 games this month.
But it was not all smiles and high-fives for the Boys in Blue.
Yasiel Puig started in right field and hit leadoff, but Mattingly removed the rookie after four innings in favor of Skip Schumaker.
"I felt I was going to get a better effort out of Skip," Mattingly said. "I felt like Skip was going to give us a better chance to win."
Puig said he wasn't prepared. Nolasco said what the outfielder did to warrant coming out of the game "wasn't acceptable." But Mattingly, Puig and Nolasco would not elaborate.
Puig went into the clubhouse after he was lifted, but he returned to the dugout shortly after and watched the rest of the game from the bench.
"I wanted to finish the game, of course," Puig said through a translator. "But when I was explained why, I agreed with the explanation and understood that my teammate could also give 100 percent and do a good job as well."
Schumaker contributed an RBI single in his first at-bat replacing Puig, as the Dodgers scored twice in the fifth to pad their lead.