Yasiel Puig is just 22 years old, and already has established himself as one of the most dangerous hitters in the major leagues — as well as a role model for his teammates who enjoy his gung-ho style in the outfield and on the base paths.
Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning, Andre Ethier had a two-run double, and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 6-4 victory on Thursday night.
“Sometimes he plays too hard, and sometimes you have to tell him: ‘Man, calm down. You can’t make every play.’ But he’s done an amazing job in his first month in the big leagues,” Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said of the Cuban rookie sensation.
Zack Greinke (4-3) struck out five over seven innings and allowed four runs on 12 hits, including solo homers by Domonic Brown and Chase Utley, to help the Dodgers get their season-best sixth straight win.
Puig was shaken up crashing into the right field auxiliary scoreboard while trying to track Utley’s ninth homer in the top of the seventh that put Philadelphia ahead 4-3. However, Puig was none the worse for wear — as he proved moments later.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the bottom half against rookie reliever Justin De Fratus (2-2) without the benefit of a hit. A.J. Ellis walked and Juan Uribe reached on a bunt that first baseman Ryan Howard tried to field before slipping and falling on the play. Nick Punto advanced the runners with another bunt, and Hanley Ramirez drew an intentional walk while batting for Greinke.
Skip Schumaker was called out on strikes for the second time, but Puig slapped an 0-2 pitch to left field to put the Dodgers ahead 5-4.
Puig is batting a robust .427 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in just 23 big league games.
“His energy just feeds into all of us,” Ellis said. “We all dream and wish we could play the way he’s playing.”
Kemp, playing in his third game after missing a month with an injured right hamstring, was 2 for 4 with an RBI double. He led off the eighth with a single, then stole second and third base and scored on Ellis’ sacrifice fly.
Kenley Jansen followed J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario out of the bullpen and got the last three outs for his seventh save in nine chances.
DIAMONDBACKS 3, NATIONALS 2: Didi Gregorius drove in the go-ahead run with a bunt single in the 11th inning and Aaron Hill homered as Arizona won to salvage the finale of a three-game series. Miguel Montero led off the 11th with a ground-rule double off Craig Stammen (4-3). A.J. Pollock ran for Montero and Cody Ross bunted him to third. After Jason Kubel drew a walk, Gregorius bunted down and Pollock ran on contact, scoring the go-ahead run as Gregorius beat the throw at first.
METS 3, ROCKIES 2: Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and threw out a runner from right field in the ninth to lead New York past Colorado in a makeup of a snowed-out game April 17. With the Mets trailing 2-1 and a runner on, Byrd drove a fastball from reliever Matt Belisle (4-5) into the left-center seats. That was about the extent of the offense for New York with star slugger David Wright receiving a rare rest.
CUBS 7, BREWERS 2: Matt Garza struck out 10 in seven solid innings and Dioner Navarro hit a three-run homer, sending Chicago to a victory over Milwaukee. Garza (3-1) had his third consecutive strong outing. The right-hander allowed one run on eight hits and a walk while throwing 101 pitches.The Cubs broke the game open with four runs in the third, capped by Navarro’s seventh homer. Milwaukee made a pair of errors and all the runs in the inning off Wily Peralta were unearned.
RED SOX 7, BLUE JAYS 4: Jon Lester pitched into the eighth inning before leaving with an jammed hip, and Dustin Pedroia homered in a seven-run second to help the first-place Red Sox beat Toronto in the opener of a four-game series. Toronto, which reeled off 11 straight wins this month, had won 12 of its past 14 games and 15 of 19 to close within 6ﾽ games of the AL East-leading Red Sox. Then the Blue Jays ran into Lester (8-4), who was charged with four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in winning for just the second time in his last eight starts. The left-hander retired 10 straight to begin the game and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth. He came out after giving up two singles to start the eighth and with a 3-0 count on Emilio Bonifacio.
RANGERS 2, YANKEES 0: Derek Holland tamed a team that often tagged him, pitching a two-hitter as Texas finished an impressive road trip with a win over New York. Jurickson Profar homered and scored twice, while fellow rookie Engel Beltre got two hits in his first big league start. AL West-leading Texas went 5-1 on its trip to St. Louis and Yankee Stadium. Holland (6-4) threw his sixth career shutout and the lowest-hit shutout by a visiting Rangers pitcher against the Yankees since the Texas franchise moved from Washington for the 1972 season.
ORIOLES 7, INDIANS 3: Chris Davis drove in the tiebreaking run on a fielder’s choice grounder in a wild five-run fifth inning, and Baltimore rallied for a victory over Cleveland. The Orioles used six hits and two errors to erase a 3-2 deficit in the fifth, salvaging a split in the four-game series. Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy also had RBIs during the rally. Miguel Gonzalez (6-3) won for the fourth time in five decisions. He allowed three runs on nine hits over 6 2-3 innings, walking none and matching a career high with nine strikeouts.
ANGELS 3, TIGERS 1: Albert Pujols hit a tiebreaking double in the 10th inning and Los Angeles beat Detroit for a three-game sweep and its ninth straight victory over the defending American League champs. Mike Trout had four hits and Jered Weaver pitched seven strong innings in a tight duel with Detroit right-hander Doug Fister. J.B. Shuck singled leading off the 10th against Phil Coke (0-5) and went to third on Trout’s single to right field. Pujols sent a drive to deep center, where Austin Jackson failed to make a difficult catch with his back to home plate. Josh Hamilton made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly. Kevin Jepsen (1-2) worked a scoreless ninth for the win and Ernesto Frieri got his 19th save.
TWINS 3, ROYALS 1: Samuel Deduno pitched seven sharp innings and one of Justin Morneau’s two doubles drove in Minnesota’s first run in a victory over Kansas City. Deduno (4-2) gave up only five hits and, more importantly, one walk. He struck out three and let only eight fair balls leave the infield. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth and Glen Perkins notched his 20th save in 22 tries with a scoreless ninth despite allowing a walk and a double.