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WSH@LAD: Loney's bases-loaded single scores a pair

LOS ANGELES -- Barring a last-day glitch, the Dodgers on Sunday played their final game with Frank McCourt as owner, and marked it by completing a series sweep of the Nationals with a 2-0 win on James Loney's two-run single and Chris Capuano's impressive start.

McCourt will become a freshly minted billionaire -- and former owner -- when Guggenheim Baseball Management, Magic Johnson, et al, take over Monday. But the transition has already started.

Veteran sports executive Stan Kasten, the new ownership's president and CEO, has been speaking with general manager Ned Colletti almost daily lately, and introduced himself to the team in a pregame clubhouse meeting Sunday morning.

Mark Walter's Guggenheim group receives more than it bargained for with the $2.15 billion purchase, as Loney's RBIs in the sixth inning off left-hander Gio Gonzalez helped the Dodgers to a 16-6 start, their best since 1981. They are 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2010, and have three series sweeps this year, as many as they had all last year.

The Dodgers finished the homestand against Atlanta and Washington 4-2, and manager Don Mattingly said he's good with that.

"I can't be concerned with chatter," he said of outside criticism. "We win games, but we're not beating anybody. Now we play two hot teams, 'Well, you did it at home and now you have to do it on the road.'"

Starting pitchers Capuano and Gonzalez picked up where Stephen Strasburg and Chad Billingsley left off the night before, dueling scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, when, with one out, Gonzalez lost his control and successively walked Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe.

"I kind of put it in a way where I was beating myself there," said Gonzalez. "I was trying to be too perfect -- to throw pitches too perfectly. It kind of got away from me."

On a 1-2 pitch, Loney hit a soft liner into shallow left-center field to score Kemp and Ethier. The Dodgers won despite being outhit, 4-3.

Loney has six RBIs this year, and these were the first two off a left-handed pitcher. Last year, he drove in 14 runs while batting .214 against lefties. He's hitting only .158 against lefties this year when he's not being platooned.

"I was just trying to get a ball to drive, at least to the outfield," Loney said. "I didn't hit it that hard, but the swing path felt good to the ball."

Capuano (3-0), the club's first three-game winner this year, allowed three hits in 6 2/3 innings, with nine strikeouts in his third consecutive quality start, and was lifted after allowing a two-out single to Bryce Harper and running the count to 2-0 to right-handed hitting Jesus Flores.

"Donnie, I think he has a good feel for making moves," said Capuano of the Los Angeles manager. "He's very decisive. Early in the year, he didn't want to let games get away from us, and that's good. My last two games, I've felt very strong around the 90-105 pitches, and that's important for me."

Capuano said a long-toss program he follows since his second Tommy John operation has helped his arm strength.

Josh Lindblom (0.66 ERA) pitched 1 1/3 effective innings as setup man to Kenley Jansen, who got the save assignment over Javy Guerra and struck out the side to do it, despite a pair of walks that made it exciting.

Mattingly, who insisted before the game that Guerra was still his closer despite a rocky two weeks, said he went with the "freshest" arm in Jansen. Guerra made 18 pitches Saturday night, Jansen hadn't pitched since Friday night. But when Jansen opened the ninth with six consecutive balls, Mattingly got Guerra and lefty Scott Elbert up in the bullpen.

"As many close games as we play every night, you can't go with the same two or three guys every night," he said.

Mattingly said Lindblom has gone from the last man to make the bullpen to an important late-inning reliever.

"He's been outstanding, from the very first day," said Mattingly. "He's done multiple innings. We've pushed him from the fifth and sixth innings to the seventh, and now we use him in the eighth. Today, bringing him in during the inning means I have confidence he's going to throw strikes."

Gonzalez got a scare when Kemp led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a line drive back to toward Gonzalez's head. He knocked it down with his pitching arm, threw out Kemp, and remained in the game to walk Ethier.

Harper, playing his second Major League game, ran down Uribe's drive by reaching high up against the center-field fence for the second out, and Loney grounded out to end the inning. Comments