LOS ANGELES — The injury-riddled Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t missed a beat, thanks to a formidable bench that has more than compensated for recent injuries to regulars Matt Kemp, Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe and Juan Rivera.
Utility infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. and reserve outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., whose fathers gave them first-hand experience on how to be major leaguers, helped lead the Dodgers in their latest win.
Hairston had the first five-hit game of his career and Gwynn added a pair of RBI singles in Chris Capuano’s 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
“Matt’s arguably the best player in the game, and you hate to lose a guy like that because it can be pretty devastating for the team. But we feel we have a complete team,” Hairston said. “And even with Matt in the lineup, we’re going to need everybody to contribute to be successful. Everybody’s been doing that, and it’s been fun.”
Hairston had a double and four singles, one of which drove in a run. He raised his average to .381 in his second start since coming off the disabled list on Friday.
“It feels good, but the bottom line is that we won,” Hairston said. “As a player, I try not to be result-oriented. I know it’s a result-oriented business, but you just try to have good at-bats. If you do that, the results will be there.”
The Dodgers’ sixth victory in eight games — all minus Kemp, Ellis, Uribe and Rivera — improved the best record in the majors to 32-15 and enabled Los Angeles to maintain its 7½-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West.
NL RBIs leader Andre Ethier was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, but his teammates picked up the slack considerably with 12 hits.
“We’re a resilient bunch. Guys aren’t afraid of the moment, and they step right in,” Gwynn said. “We’re not thinking about Matt being gone or Juan being gone. Everybody’s just doing their part. When you’ve got a bunch of guys pulling the rope in the same direction, you’re going to have some positive results.”
“We knew coming into this year that we had to have guys stepping up in addition to Matt, ‘Dre and Kershaw,” he said. “And for the most part, everybody from one to 25 has been able to come up with a big hit or a big defensive play.”
Matt Treanor put the Dodgers ahead for good with a home run in the fourth inning that deflected off center fielder Justin Maxwell’s glove as he made a leaping attempt in left-center field.
Capuano (7-1) pitched two-hit ball over seven innings and struck out eight. It was the eighth time in his last nine starts that he allowed fewer than three runs. The 33-year-old left-hander improved to 5-0 at home with a 1.36 ERA.
“The guy’s good, man. He’s been pitching good all year and he’s one of the better pitchers you’re going to face,” said Astros third baseman Chris Johnson, who struck out twice in going 0 for 3. “His changeup’s nasty. I would consider him an ace on a lot of teams.”
Capuano is displaying the form that earned him an All-Star nod with Milwaukee in 2006 and convinced the Dodgers’ front office to sign the free agent to a two-year, $10 million contract in December. The way he is going, he could easily be the ace in a lot of rotations.
“I try not to get caught up with that. I just try to focus on what I can control, which is making pitches,” Capuano said. “Sometimes I feel bad for guys who are in that one or two slot. Even if they’re pitching well, because of their slot, there’s all that pressure and nothing slides.”
J.A. Happ (4-4) tied a career high by striking out 10. He gave up two earned runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings, and fell to 0-3 with a 2.82 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers.
“He was in trouble a lot,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “Out of his 10 strikeouts, nine were with runners in scoring position. That tells you right there that he was in trouble almost every inning.”
Jose Altuve lined Capuano’s first pitch of the game past a diving Gwynn in center field for a triple, and scored when shortstop Dee Gordon made a diving stop of Jed Lowrie’s grounder up the middle and threw him out.
“Lowrie hits that ball up the middle and Gordon makes a nice play to stop the inning from continuing to move on. That was a huge play of the game right there,” Mills said. “We had something going, and Capuano was still trying to find himself.”
The Dodgers tied it in the second on a two-out single by Gwynn, then went ahead on Treanor’s homer.
Altuve’s triple was Houston’s only hit until Lowrie’s two-out single in the sixth. Capuano’s reflexes took over in the sixth when he knocked down Carlos Lee’s liner with his glove while diving to the third-base side of the mound and threw him out to strand runners at first and second with the Dodgers leading 2-1.
Johnson made two errors on routine grounders by Scott Van Slyke in the fifth inning and Ethier in the seventh. Ethier made it all the way to second base on the second miscue, putting two runners in scoring position with one out, and Hairston scored the Dodgers’ third run on Xavier Cedeno’s bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu.
NOTES: This was Houston’s final regular-season game against the Dodgers before the 51-year-old franchise shifts to the American League next season. Organist Nancy Bea Hefley played “Yellow Rose of Texas” while the Astros’ starting lineup was announced. … Cedeno’s contract was purchased earlier Sunday from Triple-A Oklahoma City after lefty Fernando Abad was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an inntercostal strain on his right side.