With Carlos Marmol removed from his closer role, the Cubs used Rafael Dolis to retire the Dodgers in the ninth. Now they look to clinch a series victory Saturday, when they send Chris Volstad to the mound opposite Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano.
The struggling Volstad gets the call in place of Matt Garza, who was scratched for Saturday's start because he has the flu. A rainout earlier in the week bumped Volstad's start to Sunday, but Garza's illness will return Volstad to his typical four days' rest.
If Volstad can put himself in position for his first win with the Cubs, he won't be relying on Marmol in the ninth anymore. Marmol, who leads the entire pitching staff -- starters included -- with 12 free passes, walked three of the five hitters he faced in blowing a 3-0 lead against the Reds on Thursday.
As a result, manager Dale Sveum said left-hander James Russell and the righty Dolis will become the top two ninth-inning options.
"Dolis, obviously, he doesn't have the experience Russell has, but for the most part, you're going to have more right-handed hitters come up in an inning than left-handed hitters," Sveum said. "Like I said, it's just going to be as far as the matchup goes and the personnel on the other side of the field."
Looking to make sure neither Dolis nor Russell gets a shot at a save situation, Capuano starts for the Dodgers, coming off 6 2/3 scoreless frames against Washington last Sunday. That victory made him the club's first three-game winner and dropped his ERA to 2.73 in five starts.
Capuano has undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career, but he said the long-toss program he's been using recently has helped with his arm strength. He was removed in the middle of an at-bat during the Nationals game, but praised manager Don Mattingly for knowing his limits.
"He has a good feel for making moves. He's very decisive," Capuano said after Sunday's game. "Early in the year, he didn't want to let the games get away from us, and that's good. My last two games, I've felt very good around 90-105 pitches, and that's important for me."
Volstad will have to contend with the National League's leaders in all three Triple Crown categories. Center fielder Matt Kemp has been garnering "MVP" chants at home games this year, and rightfully so. He leads the league in homers and batting average and trails only teammate Andre Ethier in RBIs.
Dodgers: Abreu signed, Sellers optioned to Triple-A
The Dodgers added veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu on Friday and cleared space by optioning infielder Justin Sellers to Triple-A Albuquerque. Abreu went 0-for-2 in his first game with Los Angeles.
"I'm just happy to be back right now," Abreu said before Friday's game. "I'll do anything I can do to help the team -- as a pinch-hitter and whenever they give me time to play."
Abreu, a two-time All-Star and lifetime .293 hitter, was homerless and batting just .208 this season before being released by the Angels so the club could call up prospect Mike Trout.
Reliever Ronald Belisario has yet to pitch since he returned from a 25-game suspension for a positive cocaine test.
"I feel pretty good about it, thank God," said Belisario, activated Thursday when the Dodgers designated for assignment Mike MacDougal. "I thank the owner for the opportunity."
Catcher A.J. Ellis is hitting .393 in his last nine games and is riding a 17-game on-base streak.
Cubs: Wind blowing out at Wrigley?
The Cubs have homered in a season-high five consecutive games, and seven of their past nine. To start the season they only notched homers in three of their first 17 contests.
"For a while obviously we were playing here, and the wind was howling in every game, and we played in Florida -- that was a huge ballpark," Sveum said. "So the home runs will start coming gradually when the weather warms up and the guys really start getting their swings down."
First baseman Bryan LaHair has reached base safely in his last 22 games. The last Cubs first baseman with a longer streak was Derrek Lee, who put together a 30-game on-base streak in 2009.
Through 26 games, the Cubs have notched 21 stolen bases. They didn't reach the 20-steal mark until their 68th game last year.
The Cubs and Dodgers have met exactly 700 times at Wrigley Field, with Chicago holding the edge, 400-300.
Capuano is just the second left-hander Chicago has faced in its last 15 games.