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Cubs can’t break through against Chris Capuano in loss to Dodgers

Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano ­follows through his two-out two-run double second ­inning. | Brian Kersey~Getty Images

Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano ­follows through on his two-out, two-run double in the second ­inning. | Brian Kersey~Getty Images

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Updated: June 7, 2012 8:27AM

The Los Angeles Dodgers refer to left-hander Chris Capuano, a Duke grad with a degree in economics who was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, as ‘‘brainiac.’’

The Cubs probably would call him ‘‘nemesis.’’

He has shut out the Cubs twice, both in 2006, between two Tommy John surgeries on his left elbow (in 2002 and ’08). In 13 career starts against the Cubs, he’s 9-3 with a 3.34 ERA.

On Saturday, he not only pitched seven scoreless innings, but he had a two-run double in the second inning off Chris Volstad (0-4) that was the key in the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory.

‘‘[Runners on] second and third and I give up one run, I’d feel pretty good,’’ Volstad said. ‘‘But he hits it, and it’s 3-0.’’

Capuano, 33, hadn’t had an RBI since 2007, when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. But he isn’t just punishing the Cubs.

His 4-0 start this season is his best since starting 5-0 in 2007, and he has thrown 182/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

‘‘It was a lot of fun out there,’’ Capuano said. ‘‘Me and [catcher Matt Treanor] had a pretty good game plan. For the most part, we were making our pitches.’’

He made some of his best in the first inning, when the Cubs had their best chance to score. An error by shortstop Dee Gordon, a single by Starlin Castro and a walk to Bryan LaHair loaded the bases with one out. But umpire Tim Timmons called Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart out on strikes.

‘‘I don’t argue with the umpires, but the pitch was inside,’’ Soriano said.

‘‘I was pumped up getting that last out,’’ Capuano said of retiring Stewart. ‘‘I think it kind of helped the momentum swing our way. That’s always big when you can get out of a jam early.’’

Volstad knows that all too well. He was punished again for failing to escape one bad inning.

‘‘Runners on and pitching from the stretch has been a struggle,’’ Volstad said. ‘‘I just have to be better in those situations. It’s probably approach and execution. I don’t know if it’s mental, but it could be mechanical, too. I have to figure it out. Everything gets bunched up in one inning, and it adds up quickly.’’

Volstad had three quick innings, in the first, third and fourth, but he gave up two more runs in the fifth, his last inning.

His streak of winless starts reached 17. Since his last victory July 10, 2011, against the Houston Astros, he has had nine losses and eight no-decisions

‘‘It’s kind of the same old thing,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘Efficient but just couldn’t get the out when he had to.

‘‘I don’t know [why]. It might be as much pitching out of the stretch for some reason or he can’t keep the ball down. Whatever it might be, we’ve got to get it fixed.’’

The Cubs didn’t score until the ninth, when Castro singled off Jamey Wright and scored on Stewart’s single. Castro (3-for-4) and Stewart (2-for-4) had all the Cubs’ hits.

LaHair walked twice and has reached base in 23 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Cubs first baseman since Derrek Lee’s 30-game stretch in 2009.

The only other consolation might have been the scoreless relief work of Lendy Castillo (two innings), Carlos Marmol (one inning) and Michael Bowden (one inning).

‘‘We let them off the hook in the first,’’ said Sveum, who knew Capuano well as a coach with the Brewers. ‘‘He made some great pitches. It wasn’t anything other than a guy making pitches when he had to.

‘‘He’s really pitching well this year. He’s just been consistent so far and been really impressive. He’s a great athlete and handles the bat great. It was just unfortunate he got that big hit.’’

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