As much entertainment as Yasiel Puig has provided in his three weeks with the Dodgers, his presence hasn’t had a pronounced effect on the team’s win-loss record.
Until now, perhaps.
By virtue of a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on Monday, the Dodgers won three consecutive games for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Puig was a central figure in the triumph, as he hit his seventh home run in the first inning and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth. The Dodgers (33-42) are 10-10 in games in which Puig has played and are eight games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.
Meanwhile, the Giants fell to 38-38. The last time the Giants were .500 this late in the year was in 2008, their last losing season.
Until Monday night, the Dodgers had dropped five consecutive decisions to the Giants. And until the first inning, the Dodgers hadn’t scored against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner in 16 consecutive innings.
Puig ended that streak right away, homering to the opposite field to put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0.
“Crazy stuff,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
What impressed left fielder Jerry Hairston Jr. about the blast was that Puig appeared to be countering the adjustments opposing pitchers have made to him.
“They pound him inside with the fastball and throw the soft stuff away,” Hairston said. “That pitch by Madison was something soft away and he deposited it into the right-field seats. That’s the thing that’s impressed me so far. He makes adjustments on the fly.”
Puig collected his second hit in the sixth inning, a two-out single to right field. Between his home run and that hit, only one Dodger reached base — A.J. Ellis on a walk.
Puig didn’t score in the sixth but did something memorable. When Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to second base to end the inning, Puig continued running to third base.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt reflexively threw to third base, where Puig slid headfirst past the bag.
Puig made another gaffe in the top of the seventh. With his back to the wall, he missed a fly ball by Buster Posey, allowing Posey to reach second base with two out on what was ruled a double. Ronald Belisario replaced starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and struck out Hunter Pence to keep the score tied, 1-1.
Puig’s mistake ended a tension-filled night for Ryu, who was constantly pitching his way out of trouble. Ryu was charged with eight hits and four walks in 62/3 innings.
Ryu gave up his only run in the second inning, when Andres Torres doubled in Joaquin Arias to tie the score, 1-1.
Arias exited the game because of a strained left hamstring.
The Giants loaded the bases in the third inning, but Ryu forced Brandon Crawford to fly out to left field for the third out.
The Giants again loaded the bases in the fifth inning, this time with one out. Crawford again came up to hit, only to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play.
“He’s really good at knowing the key situations in the game,” Ellis, the catcher, said of Ryu. “He knows when he needs a strikeout, when he needs a ground ball.”
The Dodgers ended the stalemate in the eighth inning. Nick Punto, who entered the game as part of a double switch in the top half of the inning, led off with a double. Mark Ellis tried to bunt him over and reached base when Bumgarner made a throwing error.
With runners on the corners, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy called on George Kontos to face Puig.
Puig smoked a ball past Crawford, the shortstop, and Punto scored to move the Dodgers back in front, 2-1.
Left-hander Javier Lopez threw a wild pitch with Gonzalez batting that advanced the runners to second and third. Mark Ellis scored on a groundout by Hanley Ramirez to extend the lead to 3-1.
Kenley Jansen struck out three in the ninth inning to record his fifth save.