MIAMI -- Baseball etiquette demands that teammates never mention "no-hitter" to a pitcher who is pitching one, but Chris Capuano couldn't help but know he was working on one on Sunday.
"I had a nice heckler, when I was in the on-deck circle, keep reminding me of it," said Capuano. "I probably made a mistake when I turned and said, 'Yeah, I know.'"
Capuano lost the no-hitter to former Mets teammate Jose Reyes with one out in the seventh inning, but with three more RBIs from Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers went on to a 5-0 win over the Marlins in the rubber game of the three-game series. Capuano was lifted with a two-hitter going after eight innings to save his rebuilt arm for the next start.
"[Reyes] has a quick bat, I left one over the middle and he smoked it," said Capuano, who also allowed a bloop single to Nick Green with one out in the eighth inning.
"I said, '[The seventh] is our inning to get a hit.' I told Joey Cora, 'Right now, if we don't get a hit, I have to prepare my press conference to tell [the media] how I feel about the no-hitter,'" Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I was thinking about how many no-hitters I was [part of], when was the last time I got no-hit. All those things went through my mind. Thank you, Reyes, for that one."
But the Dodgers broke open Capuano's duel against Wade LeBlanc with a four-run eighth inning off deposed closer Heath Bell. Ramirez, who had three more RBIs against the team that traded him to the Dodgers, delivered the fatal blow, a two-run single.
Manager Don Mattingly pulled Capuano three outs shy of a shutout, thinking of the long run.
"He understood," said Mattingly. "He's pitching next time on regular rest. Guys want to be strong in the back end of the season. Another 20 pitches, it makes no sense -- even with the shutout."
Capuano said the best he felt in the Major Leagues was a complete-game two-hitter last year for the Mets against Atlanta. He said this was the best he felt as a Dodger, and it snapped a three-game losing streak -- raising his record to 11-8, while lowering his ERA to 3.11.
"I had an extra day of rest [with Thursday's travel day], and my body feels good when I have extra rest," said Capuano. "Donnie said I was over 100 pitches, and he wanted to take me out and keep me fresh for Atlanta [on Friday], where it will be hot. I felt good, I wanted to finish it. But I also understand he's managing for the season, and he wants to keep the staff strong all year."
Capuano walked three and struck out 10 Marlins, as he made his bid for the first no-hitter by a Dodger since Hideo Nomo's remarkable masterpiece at Coors Field against the Rockies in 1996.
"I played with him last year, he knows how to pitch," said Reyes. "He's a veteran. We've got to give some credit to him. He's got an unbelievable changeup. When he throws that fastball like 88 [miles per hour], it looks like 100. We didn't feel too comfortable at home plate today, but at least we got two hits.
"You don't want any pitcher to throw a no-hitter against us. The way this season is going for us, if somebody throws a no-hitter, it's going to be embarrassing. At least we put two hits on the board."
There were no spectacular defensive plays behind Capuano, who nonetheless was helped by his infield turning a double-play grounder in the second inning and catcher Matt Treanor throwing out Austin Kearns trying to steal second base after a leadoff walk in the fifth.
The Dodgers left two runners in scoring position in the first inning, and in the third had bases loaded with no outs and got only one run on Ramirez's sacrifice fly that scored Capuano, who had singled. Ramirez gave the Dodgers breathing room in the eighth with a two-run single that followed Mark Ellis' third hit of the game and a double by Matt Kemp.
"Maybe [Ramirez is] just revitalized over there," said LaBlanc. "Maybe a fresh start. That's what a lot of guys need sometimes. You see it with a lot of guys, not just Hanley. It's more so with him because of how soon he's come back here, and how well he's played these three games."
Ramirez rejected the suggestion that his return to Miami, where he played for six years and where his family lives, was emotional.
"Not at all, only the first at-bat," Ramirez said of Friday night's mixed response from the crowd. "After that, everything was normal and I just [tried] to do my job. It's in the past."
Ramirez has 18 RBIs in 17 games since he was traded to the Dodgers by the Marlins on July 24, and leads the league with 18 game-winning RBIs. The second hit gave him career RBI No. 500.
"If he'll take his hits -- we talked about it -- his swing is great. ... If he takes his hits, he'll drive in a ton and hit home runs," said Mattingly. "When [his swing] gets big, he gets long. But he can hit."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.