Yasiel Puig powered the Dodgers in his second major league game, injecting the kind of excitement that has been missing all season for the last-place team.
The 22-year-old Cuban defector homered twice and drove in five runs, helping Los Angeles rally for a 9-7 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
Puig made two curtain calls from the top of the dugout steps, raising both arms to acknowledge the first one after his second homer, a two-run shot with two outs in the sixth, when the Dodgers scored three runs to snap a 6-all tie.
”I want to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us,” he said through a translator. ”I want to do well.”
Batting leadoff for the second straight game, Puig hit a three-run homer – his first in the majors – on the first pitch from Padres starter Clayton Richard in the fifth, tying the game 5-all.
”It looks like he’s going to be a good hitter so you have to give him credit on that one,” Richard said.
Puig got both home run balls back as keepsakes with his parents and 17-year-old sister in attendance for the second straight night.
”I’m glad I hit two home runs,” he said. ”I’m more happy because the team won.”
Puig became the first Dodgers player with more than one homer in his first two career games, and the first to have five RBIs in that span since Spider Jorgensen drove in six runs on April 17, 1947, against the Boston Braves, according to information provided to the Dodgers by Elias Sports Bureau.
”The kid, when you trot out the offensive tools, there is some raw power in there, there’s speed, there is strength to his swing,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
Puig had another first, albeit a not so welcome one. He committed his first throwing error that led to the Padres taking a 4-2 lead in the fourth. He went 2 for 4 in his debut on Monday night and wowed with a game-ending throw from deep right field that doubled off Chris Denorfia at first base.
”Last night was storybook,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ”Tonight you were seeing the power, so it’s a big impact. We’ve had a serious lack of power and run production, so it’s two things we need.”
Puig was 3 for 4 with a double to go with his homers. He runs hard to his position in right field, and he charges around the basepaths.
”There’s an aggressiveness to the way he goes about playing baseball,” Dodgers starter Ted Lilly said. ”He’s up there with an intent to do damage.”
J.P. Howell (2-0) got the win in relief, allowing one run and two hits in 1 2-3 innings, struck out one and walked none.
Brandon League pitched the ninth to earn his 13th save in 16 chances.
Tyson Ross (0-2) gave up three runs and four hits in 2 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked one.
Tim Federowicz went 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Dodgers, who are 9-3 in their last 12 home games.
Black was ejected by home plate umpire Tim Timmons in the eighth for arguing a call at first base on an inning-ending double play grounder by Denorfia.
San Diego led 3-0 on Kyle Blanks’ two-run homer in the second. The Padres extended their lead to 5-2 in the fourth when Blanks scored as Puig’s throw to third base sailed over Juan Uribe’s head, and Richard notched his first run-scoring single of the season.
The Dodgers took a 6-5 lead in the fifth on Puig’s homer and Hanley Ramirez’s sacrifice fly. But San Diego tied it in the sixth on Denorfia’s RBI single.
Luis Cruz, who entered the game as part of a double switch, had a two-out RBI double in the sixth that gave the Dodgers a 7-6 lead before Puig’s second homer.
Lilly allowed five runs and six hits in four-plus innings. The left-hander struck out three and walked two.
Richard gave up six runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings, struck out two and walked two.
NOTES: Dodgers RHP Josh Beckett saw a specialist in Dallas on Tuesday who agreed with the team’s diagnosis that he has nerve irritation affecting his right arm and hand. Beckett will return to the club on Wednesday to continue his rehab. He’s not expected to throw for four weeks. … Dodgers reliever Matt Guerrier left the game in the sixth after getting hit on his right thumb by a line drive off the bat of Yasmani Grandal. X-rays were negative. … Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano went on 15-day DL Tuesday with a left shoulder strain, while Ramirez was activated from the DL and started in the game. RHP Stephen Fife will start in Capuano’s place on Saturday against Atlanta. … Padres INF Yonder Alonso, who got hit by a pitch on his right hand last weekend, could return to the lineup on Wednesday.