After everything the Dodgers have been through -- 20 trips to the disabled list, the loss two starting pitchers for the season, rumors of their manager being fired -- they reached the halfway point of their season Sunday in a surprising place:
Back in the pennant race.
Behind the pitching of Stephen Fife and the four hits of rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers downed the Phillies 6-1 before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 42,405.
The Dodgers remain almost as hot as the weather, winning eight of their last nine games to pull within four games of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.
They may still be in last place, but they’ve gained 5 1/2 games in the standings since June 22. They’ve played 81 games, exactly half their season, and if many of those have been forgettable, they at least now feel like a team headed in the right direction.
The Dodgers got it going Sunday afternoon by breaking out with three runs against Kyle Kendrick in the fourth. It was one of those innings they kept extending with hit after hit.
Puig, naturally, started it with the second of his four hits in five at-bats. On the day, he had two singles, a double and turned a bloop hit into a triple. And he stole two bases.
His four hits gave him 44 in June, a new record for a Los Angeles Dodgers rookie in a single month.
Puig has joined some impressive company outside the Dodgers. Only one player in major-league history has ever had more hits during the first month of his career -- Joe DiMaggio for the Yankees in May 1936.
Puig’s hit in the fourth went off the glove of third baseman Michael Young for the second time for an infield hit. He stole second and scored on a single by Hanley Ramirez, who also stole second and scored on a Matt Kemp base hit.
Kendrick balked Kemp to second, an A.J. Ellis base hit moved him to third and he scored on a Jerry Hairston Jr. single.
The Dodgers added one more in the fifth after a little Puig blooper fell harmlessly in right and he flew to third for his first career triple, scoring on an Adrian Gonzalez double.
The Dodgers pushed it to 6-0 with a pair of runs in the eighth. Kemp singled and scored on a double by Ellis, and pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke singled home Ellis.
Rookie reliever Jose Dominquez made his major-league debut in the eighth, throwing a scoreless inning and striking out his first batter, Delmon Young, on a 101 mph fastball.
Fife threw seven scoreless innings for the Dodgers and had to make some wonder why they would be interested in Miami’s Ricky Nolasco. Fife allowed only four hits and one walk, striking out five to raise his record to 3-2 and lowering his ERA to 2.83.
In his six June starts since coming off the disabled list, Fife has posted a 2.21 earned-run average.
The Phillies avoided a shutout by scoring a run off rookie Chris Withrow, just called up Sunday, with two outs in the ninth on a Jimmy Rollins single.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times