Cubs shut out again in loss to surging Dodgers

Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva pitches in the first inning Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva pitches in the first inning Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field.

CHICAGO – The Cubs appeared to take the weekend off in their series against the surging Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers shut out the Cubs for the second consecutive game, completing a four-game sweep with a 1-0 victory on Sunday and extending their franchise-record road winning streak to 14.

The Cubs, meanwhile, closed out a 1-7 homestand with a whimper and manager Dale Sveum seemed to be growing tired of his team's inability to score runs after watching them fail to cross home for 23 consecutive innings.

"We got shut out three times in [eight] games at home, scored two in another (two)," Sveum said. "It's very difficult to win, obviously, unless you're scoring runs."

The Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth against Dodgers starter Stephen Fife with back-to-back singles by Dioner Navarro and Nate Schierholtz, and Logan Watkins' first major league hit, a soft line drive over the head of Hanley Ramirez.

Chris Withrow replaced Fife (4-3) and Donnie Murphy popped out to Ramirez and pinch-hitter Cole Gillespie grounded out to first to end the threat.

"We didn't have a whole lot going on, but that was obviously a chance," Sveum said. "Bases loaded with one out. Didn't get the job done, again."

Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva was strong, allowing only two hits and one run in six innings. His lone blemish came in the second when the Dodgers scored the game's only run on A.J. Ellis' RBI single after Villanueva (2-8) issued walks to Ramirez and Andre Ethier.

Villanueva, who is winless in his six starts since returning to the rotation on July 7, didn't take much solace in his solid performance.

"What's going to make me feel good is when we win," Villanueva said. "The individual [performance] is for agents and fans or whoever cares about the numbers that way. For us, it's more about the win. It doesn't matter if we win 15 to 14 and everybody gives up runs or we win 1-0 and nobody hits. We want to win."

Fife also performed well in his return to action after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day. Don Mattingly pushed back Zack Greinke's next outing to give Fife the start and he rewarded his manager by striking out five and allowing seven hits in 5 1-3 scoreless innings. He walked two, one intentional.

Mattingly said the Dodgers will determine if Fife starts again. He had been on the disabled list since July 7 with shoulder bursitis.

"[Fife's] been throwing the ball really good for us before the shoulder thing," Mattingly said. "We really wanted to be able to give our guys an extra day right through this period of time. It felt like it was the right spot (to start him)."

Mattingly added that there was nothing wrong with Greinke, who will start Monday when the Dodgers start a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Dodgers' bullpen backed Fife with 3 2-3 shutout innings, including Kenley Jansen's perfect ninth, when he struck out the side for his 17th save in 20 opportunities.

The Dodgers swept the Cubs at Wrigley in four games or more for the first time since 1988. After playing 18 games in 17 days following the All-Star break, the Cubs welcome a day off Monday.

"Definitely comes at a good time," Sveum said. "Gives the bullpen a break and obviously guys can kick back, reflect and get a mental break, too. Obviously, the last seven days haven't been that fun."

Notes: The Cubs placed INF Luis Valbuena on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a muscle strain on his right side. The Cubs recalled Watkins from Triple-A Iowa to take his place. He started at second base and hit seventh on Sunday in his major league debut. Watkins was the Cubs' 2012 minor league player of the year after batting .281 with nine home runs for Double-A Tennessee. ... Los Angeles optioned OF Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque. Van Slyke was hitting .242 with six home runs. ... Ramirez exited the game in the seventh inning after he tumbled into the stands catching a fly ball. He held his right shoulder as he walked off the field. ... Mattingly said he expected Yasiel Puig to be back in the lineup Monday. "He's better today than we actually anticipated," Mattingly said. Puig injured his thumb while a making diving catch Saturday. Mattingly said Puig would be available to pinch-run and as a defensive replacement Sunday. He is hitting .376 with 11 home runs in 53 games. ... LHP Ted Lilly was given his release by the Dodgers. Lilly (0-2, 5.09 ERA) was designated for assignment July 25.

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