Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) celebrates with teammates Carl Crawford (3), Adrian Gonzalez (23) and Andre Ethier (16) after hitting a three-run home run against the Diamondbacks in the sixth inning Sunday.

Yasiel Puig stars in Dodgers' 4-1 victory over Diamondbacks

Yasiel Puig put on his Sunday best against the worst team in the major leagues.

Puig had a show-stopping throw and a mighty impressive home run, the top highlights of the Dodgers’ 4-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Josh Beckett and four relievers combined on a three-hitter as the first-place Dodgers took an eight-game lead over Arizona in the National League West -- with 10 days still left in April.

Beckett worked five innings, giving up no runs and one hit while striking out seven. He extended his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 11 and lowered his earned-run average to 2.57.

Closer Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth inning for his seventh save.

The game was scoreless into the sixth inning, when Carl Crawford tripled home Dee Gordon with the Dodgers’ first run. With two out and first base open, the Diamondbacks walked the left-handed Adrian Gonzalez so right-hander Josh Collmeter could pitch to the right-handed Puig.

Puig responded with his...

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Clayton Kershaw takes a spot in the dugout before Saturday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dodgers hopeful Clayton Kershaw can return in early May

The Dodgers could soon have their ace back.

Clayton Kershaw, the defending National League Cy Young award winner, said Sunday he expects to embark on a minor league rehabilitation assignment this week. The Dodgers offered no timetable for his return to the major leagues, but one source said he believed Kershaw could rejoin the Dodgers on their next trip, which extends from April 29 through May 7.

Kershaw pitched a three-inning simulated game Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Manager Don Mattingly said Kershaw reached 90 mph and has been cleared to pitch without restrictions.

"It felt good," Kershaw said. "As far as pitching at 10 a.m. in a simulated game, that's probably all I've got."

Kershaw said he expects a rehabilitation assignment comes next, assuming he reports no discomfort Monday. Mattingly said the Dodgers' training staff has not informed him of a next step or rehabilitation plan but said Kershaw would need to build enough stamina to start a game without the team needing to hold...

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Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks on during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 13. Kershaw has been on the disabled list since March 30 because of a back injury.

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw progressing, scheduled for simulated game

Progress sometimes may come in small increments, but it still makes for progress.

And the good news is that Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is making progress.

Kershaw has been on the disabled list since March 30 because of a strain on a back muscle.

Kershaw has been on a throwing program since suffering the injury, apparently in his Australia start, but Sunday he is scheduled to face hitters in a simulated game.

“That’s good news, that he’s going in the right direction,” Manager Don Mattingly said.

Kershaw, the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, has been on what the Dodgers called a submaximal throwing program, or as the rest of us call it, playing catch.

If Kershaw comes out of his Sunday effort OK, Mattingly was uncertain what would come next.

“It’s probably too early for a timetable,” Mattingly said. “He just seems to be stepping forward. But obviously as we get moving he’s going to have to go out and throw somewhere.&...

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Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke reacts to a hit by A.J. Pollock in the fifth inning Friday night. It was one of only three hits he surrendered in six innings.

Zack Greinke is on a special roll for the Dodgers

Maybe the numbers seem slightly arbitrary, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t impressive.

Zach Greinke is on some kind of roll and has been now for 16 regular season starts. He went six strong innings Friday night, holding the Diamondbacks to a Miguel Montero solo home run and two other hits.

In each of those 16 consecutive starts he has pitched at least five innings without giving up more than two runs. That’s the longest such streak since 1914, or as far back as the Dodgers can check.

That’s some impressive and consistent pitching. Impressive enough that even Greinke allowed himself to appreciate it.

“Definitely,” he said. “First off, I think it takes a lot of skill to do it, but you have to get a lot of breaks. I mean, I’ve had more than my share.

“But if you’re not pitching really good, you can’t do it. So that’s a nice accomplishment.”

Yeah, kind of. In four starts this season Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.42...

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Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke was his usual stellar self on Friday night against the Diamondbacks, giving up only three hits and one run in six innings.

Aaron Hill has a two-run single in 12th inning to beat Dodgers, 4-2

Seems the Dodgers couldn’t beat the Diamondbacks forever. Or six consecutive times.

They went extra innings Friday night, only for what little remained of a Dodger Stadium crowd of 47,680 to see the Dodgers fall, 4-2, in 12 innings.

The Diamondbacks snapped a six-game losing streak by scoring twice off Dodgers reliever Chris Perez. With a spent bullpen, Perez pitched two innings for the first time this season. He gave up a leadoff double to A.J. Pollack in the 12th and then hit Cliff Pennington with a pitch as he attempted to bunt.

After Gerardo Parra’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Aaron Hill scored both with a bloop single to center field.

There are many odd ways to lose a baseball game, though you have to give it to the Dodgers in the originality department for the way they almost went down.

They were locked in a 1-1 tie in the ninth inning when Chris Withrow opened the inning by walking leadoff hitter Miguel Montero. Tony Campana pinch ran and stole second base...

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Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly holds a pregame chat with reporters before a game earlier this season in San Diego.

Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly can't answer Yasiel Puig questions

With the Dodgers’ brass still ensconced upstairs, the Dodgers’ spokesman on the story of Yasiel Puig’s incredible journey from Cuba to the United States remains Manager Don Mattingly.

Which is unfortunate, and unfair. Mattingly shouldn’t have to be the one to answer the media’s daily questions about Puig’s escape, yet the Dodgers' manager remains dangled out there alone.

The Dodgers returned home Friday for the first time since the story broke Sunday, and Mattingly was again left to meet the local media, cameras and newscasters at Dodger Stadium vainly attempting to gain any insight on Puig’s story.

They received nothing new, though Mattingly did allow in all his years in baseball, he’d never come across a story quite like this.

“Can’t say that I have,” he said. “But there’s been a lot of [Cuban] guys. I was there in New York with El Duque [Orlando Hernandez]. I don’t know his story or what happened. Or...

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Juan Uribe reacts after striking out with the bases loaded against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

The new/old Juan Uribe continues to hurt baseballs for the Dodgers

And the Dodgers’ leading hitter after their first 16 games is 35-year-old Juan Uribe. Of course, just the way everyone had it figured.

After two horrible seasons and one sports hernia surgery, Uribe was looking like an incredible bust. He had lost his job to a journeyman infielder, and really, was no longer in the Dodgers’ plans.

Then given another opportunity, he turned things around nicely last season and was rewarded with another two-year, $15-million deal. Unthinkable a year earlier, and certainly not without risk now at his age.

Only now look at him. He’s not only picked up where he left off last season (.278, 12 homers, 50 RBI, 22 doubles in 388 at-bats), he’s building upon it.

Uribe is hitting .375 (25 for 64) with eight doubles, and it seems like most of his outs were line drives. He’s fairly consistently tagging the ball hard, all while continuing to play a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman.

He has a major-league best five games with three or more...

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Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up only four singles to the Giants in seven innings Thursday afternoon in San Francisco.

Hyun-Jin Ryu stays perfect on the road in Dodgers' 2-1 victory

Next time Hyun-Jin Ryu starts at home, disguise Dodger Stadium. Put a giant Coke bottle beyond left field. Add a pool in center. Slap Petco Park signs in the dugout or something.

Anything to make Ryu believe he’s pitching on the road, where currently he is invincible.

Ryu was at it again Thursday afternoon, holding the Giants scoreless in his seven innings to help the Dodgers salvage the finale of their three-game series at AT&T Park with a 2-1 victory.

The Dodgers now return home Friday to begin a 10-game homestand, tied with the Giants for first in the National League West with a 10-6 record.

BOX SCORE: Dodgers 2, S.F. Giants 1

Ryu (3-1) has started four games on the road this season and has yet to give up a run in 26 innings. In his only start at Dodger Stadium this year, he only made it through the second inning.

He gave up four hits, all singles, one walk and struck out three Thursday. Despite his rough start at home, he lowered his earned-run average to 1.93.

The Dodgers'...

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Dodgers starting pitcher Paul Maholm went six innings against the Giants on Wednesday night in San Francisco, giving up five hits and one run.

Dodgers' bullpen fails again in 2-1 loss to Giants

Not the Dodgers’ best night. Their mighty offense was quiet again. Their ballyhooed bullpen once more failed to deliver. Their most valuable player, Hanley Ramirez, left the game after being hit on the left hand by a pitch.

And, of course, there was the final score that showed the Giants edging the Dodgers again by a run, 2-1, Wednesday night at AT&T Park.

Ramirez was hit near the wrist area on a 3-2 Ryan Vogelsong pitch to lead off the seventh inning. An angry Ramirez slammed his helmet down and clearly was in pain.

He left the game with head trainer Stan Conte, but X-rays showed no fracture. How bruised and sore the area is, however, won’t be something the Dodgers know until before Thursday’s game, which has a 12:45 p.m. start.

AT

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Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig has declined to talk about his escape from Cuba.

Yasiel Puig issues statement on recent magazine revelations

SAN FRANCISCO – In a statement issued by his agent Wednesday, Yasiel Puig said he won’t be saying anything about the recent Los Angeles Magazine article detailing his escape from Cuba.

“I’m aware of the recent articles and new accounts. I understand that people are curious and have questions, but I will have no comment on this subject. I’m represented on this matter, and I’m only focused on being a productive teammate and helping the Dodgers win games.”

Adam Katz, Puig’s agent, released the statement.

Puig has never talked about how he left Cuba.

According to the magazine article, Puig received death threats last year from human traffickers under the control of a Mexican drug cartel.

Puig isn’t in the Dodgers lineup Wednesday, as Manager Don Mattingly decided to play Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier to face San Francisco Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong.

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Listen to Vin Scully tell a great story about Jackie Robinson

Vin Scully showed again why he is the best broadcaster in the business when he shared a great Jackie Robinson story on Tuesday, which was Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball.

Scully takes note that everyone wears No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, and that the root of the idea may stretch all the way back to Brooklyn and a guy named Gene Hermanski.

Enjoy the story in the video above.

 

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Steve Dilbeck has covered Los Angeles sports for more than 25 years. He has covered 18 World Series, 14 Super Bowls, 13 NBA Finals, five Olympics and lived to see the Clippers win a playoff series. @stevedilbeck


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