CHICAGO — The Dodgers have said for weeks what utility man Nick Punto said Friday.
“This is a special team,” Punto said.
This has become more than a belief. The Dodgers are now making history.
With a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Dodgers won their 12th consecutive road game, equaling the franchise record.
Sandy Koufax’s teams never did that. Neither did Jackie Robinson’s or Fernando Valenzuela’s. The only other team to do that played so long ago it wasn’t even called the Dodgers: the 1924 Brooklyn Robins.
“Oh, really?” Mark Ellis said. “That’s incredible. I know we’ve been playing really good on the road. That’s the sign of a good team, usually.”
Hanley Ramirez was given a day off. So was Carl Crawford. It didn’t matter.
Punto, who started in place of Ramirez at shortstop, was two for four with a double, two runs batted in and two runs scored. Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig each collected two hits. Hyun-Jin Ryu got his 10th win.
But what appeared to be a routine victory for the Dodgers — it was their 29th win in 36 games — was overrun with emotion.
Ellis and Manager Don Mattingly were ejected in the fourth inning for disputing a called third strike. Recording the final out was Carlos Marmol, the former Cubs closer who was traded to the Dodgers exactly a month earlier.
The Dodgers went ahead, 1-0, in the first inning when Gonzalez doubled and scored on a single by Puig. The Cubs drew even in the bottom of the second on consecutive doubles by Cole Gillespie and Darwin Barney.
The game started to open up in the third inning, when Punto doubled in Ellis. The Dodgers added another run by drawing four consecutive walks against Cubs starter Travis Wood to extend their lead to 3-1.
Ellis was tossed in the next inning. What Ellis believed was ball four was strike three in the eyes of home plate umpire Alan Porter.
Ellis flipped his bat and told Porter, “It was a bad call.”
He was promptly ejected.
“Everyone has a different level of tolerance,” Ellis said. “It’s silly. It never should happen. It’s embarrassing to get thrown out of a game, especially when there’s no reason for it.”
Mattingly stormed out of the dugout to defend Ellis, who said he’d been ejected only one other time in his 11-year career.
“You feel like he’s probably right,” Mattingly said of Ellis.
Mattingly drew his third ejection of the season. While a heated Mattingly argued with Porter and crew chief Jerry Layne, Mattingly and Porter bumped into each other.
Replays showed Porter ran into Mattingly and not the other way around.
“I didn’t feel like I was going forward,” Mattingly said. “I feel OK about that.”
The ejections didn’t slow down the Dodgers, who went on to score two more runs to extend their lead to 5-1.
Ryu was charged with two runs in 51/3 innings, though he gave up 11 hits. J.P. Howell, Brandon League, Ronald Belisario and Marmol combined to pitch 32/3 scoreless innings.