Ricky Nolasco trade paying off nicely

LOS ANGELES – Even as the rest of the team has simmered down in the past week, Dodgers starting pitching has continued to cook. For a while, it was driven by an apparent synergy between Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but now Ricky Nolasco has joined the mix.

Nolasco pitched his second consecutive eight-inning shutout in the Dodgers’ 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, striking out a season-high 11 batters.

Kershaw, Greinke and Nolasco together have gone 13-2 this month. Both of those losses belong to Kershaw, who has a 1.01 ERA this month. You don’t need to go much deeper than that to understand why the Dodgers are in the process of polishing off one of the best months in franchise history. They are 21-6 in August.

Since the Dodgers landed Nolasco from the Miami Marlins on July 6, he is 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA.

It looked like bad news for the Cubs in the first inning, when Nolasco used a nasty curveball to help him get a couple of strikeouts. Nolasco’s success often is predicated on the effectiveness of his breaking pitches.

Nolasco was coming off his best start of the season. He shut out the Boston Red Sox over eight innings in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win Friday night.

As is often the case, there was more drama with Yasiel Puig. The rookie was taken out of the game following the fourth inning and replaced by utility man Skip Schumaker. The Dodgers said the move was made at the “manager’s discretion.”

Puig went into second base standing up in the first inning rather than trying to break up a double play, a decision that may have cost the Dodgers a run after Hanley Ramirez homered. He also made two catches in right field in the fourth, snatching the ball in a nonchalant manner.

Andre Ethier hit a solo home run off Edwin Jackson in the fourth inning and then Jackson’s errant throw helped them score a couple of more in the fifth. Jackson had a play at third on Nolasco’s bunt, but skipped the throw past Cody Ransom and into foul ground.