A little bit of discipline went a long way for Yasiel Puig.
The energetic rookie had four hits and two stolen bases after getting benched in his previous game, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a pair of two-run homers to help the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 9-2 on Friday night.
”He was good, got us going early and other guys kept swinging the bat,” said manager Don Mattingly, who sat Puig in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Cubs because he didn’t think Puig was ready for every pitch on defense.
”He played the game the way we want. The other day is over and he played well tonight. We’ve talked about it, and it’s over. It’s not something that continues on. It’s been handled and we’re moving forward. He understands where we’re coming from. I like Yasiel. He’s a good player, he’s a good kid, and I think he’s going to help us win. So I want him in there.”
The teams met for the first time since a four-game series at San Diego in June, when the Dodgers lost the first two and fell a season-worst 9 1/2 games behind Arizona in the NL West. But they won the next two, triggering a 46-10 stretch that vaulted them a season-best 10 1/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks on Aug. 23 – the same margin Los Angeles enjoys with 28 games remaining.
”You look over there and you know they’ve got some star power,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
A.J. Ellis homered in the seventh inning immediately after Gonzalez’s second of the game and 19th this season. Hanley Ramirez’s two-run double preceded the back-to-back homers off reliever Anthony Bass.
Dodgers center fielder Andre Ethier threw out Nick Hundley at the plate in the top of the inning when he tried to score on a single by Alexi Amarista.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5) tied Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke for the team lead in wins, allowing a run and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings following his first back-to-back losses in the majors. The South Korean left-hander struck out six, walked one and drove in the Dodgers’ first run with a double.
”He had a great fastball from the first inning and he set the tone,” Ellis said. ”He was pumping 93, 94 (mph) that first inning, and usually his m.o. in the past has been to build up to that as the game goes on. So I think he wanted to make a statement right away because he was pretty discouraged about the way the first inning went against Boston.
”It’s just great to have another guy in the mix with those other two guys. It speaks to what kind of competitor he is,” the catcher added. ”But this guy’s pitched in much bigger games than anything he’s done so far here. He’s pitched in Olympics and World Baseball Classics, and hopefully he’s got bigger games ahead of him. He’s the best pitcher in his entire country. So for him to come here and do this, I don’t think any of us should be surprised.”
The victory was the Dodgers’ 22nd in August, their most in a month since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The club record is 25 set in July 1947 and equaled in August 1953, when the team played in Brooklyn.
Eric Stults (8-12) gave up four runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings in his fourth start this season against the team he began his big league career with in 2006. The left-hander is 0-5 with a 4.91 ERA in his last eight outings.
The Padres opened the scoring with an RBI double by Logan Forsythe in the second, but the Dodgers responded with two runs in the bottom half on Ryu’s two-out RBI double off the base of the left-field fence and a broken-bat single by Puig.
Gonzalez increased the margin to 4-1 in the third with an opposite-field drive to left-center that followed Ramirez’s leadoff double. Gonzalez, who spent five seasons with the Padres and wore their uniform in three of his four All-Star games, is batting .387 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 23 games against them since he was traded to Boston in December 2010.
”When it’s warm here, the ball seems to carry,” Ellis said. ”I mean, I hit a home run, so that means the ball was flying. But both of Adrian’s homers were no-doubters. It was just good to get some big runs on the board like that because it adds energy to the team.”
NOTES: Puig’s other four-hit game was June 30 in a 6-1 win against Philadelphia. … Of the six first-place teams, the Dodgers are the only one that has a losing record within its own division (24-27). Three of their final 28 games are outside the NL West: Sept. 6-8 at Cincinnati. … The last time the Dodgers had three pitchers with at least 13 wins was 2004, when Jeff Weaver, Jose Lima and Kazuhisa Ishii each finished with 13. … In 24 starts with the Dodgers spanning his first four big league seasons, Stults was 8-9 with a 4.39 ERA and two complete games – both shutouts. In 43 starts since then, he is 16-15 with a 3.51 ERA and no complete games. … Ryu is 9-0 with two no-decisions when the Dodgers score six or more runs, and the team is 36-3 under those circumstances. All three losses were in extra innings. … Ellis’ homer was his seventh this season and first at Dodger Stadium.