Dodgers beat Giants on A.J. Ellis’ hit, but focus is on Yasiel Puig
SAN FRANCISCO — A.J. Ellis’ three-run double in the ninth inning lifted the Dodgers to their second victory at AT&T Park in three days, a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday.
But one player in the Dodgers’ clubhouse argued that Ellis’ double wasn’t the most important hit of game, saying that designation belonged to Yasiel Puig’s leadoff single that inning.
“He was embarrassed yesterday,” the player, who asked not to be identified for publication, said of Puig.
Puig struck out four times the previous night. He struck out twice more Sunday.
Perhaps that’s why the 22-year-old rookie flipped his bat so demonstratively when he got that ninth-inning hit. And perhaps that was why he barked at Giants closer Sergio Romo when he and two teammates scored on Ellis’ line drive to left-center field.
Puig acknowledged this was payback for Saturday night, when Romo struck him out on his way to closing out a Giants win. When Romo forced Hanley Ramirez to fly out to end the game, he mimicked Ramirez’s trademark “I see you” gesture — the same gesture Ramirez made when he hit two home runs against Romo last year.
“Yesterday, he struck me out, he controlled Hanley, and he celebrated,” Puig said. “Today, it was our turn to celebrate. We were screaming at him, but it wasn’t anything bad.”
Clayton Kershaw (8-5) made another brilliant start, holding the Giants to one run and three hits over eight innings to lower his major league-leading earned-run average to 1.89. But it was Puig’s up-and-down weekend that was the story of this series.
There were several downs.
His refusal to grant interviews the first two days of the series drew the ire of national reporters who traveled to San Francisco to chronicle his exploits. It was becoming increasingly clear the Dodgers had little or no control over their temperamental outfielder. When Puig spoke after the series finale, he did so only at the insistence of locker-mate Juan Uribe, with whom he had a heated exchange.
On the field, Puig repeatedly was a sucker for pitches low and away. Chad Gaudin struck him out with a slider in his first at-bat Sunday, his fifth consecutive strikeout.
Puig singled in the fourth inning and stole second base but was thrown out trying to steal third with Ramirez at the plate. That earned him a lecture from first base coach Davey Lopes between innings.
Puig said he learned from the mistake.
“We have Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp behind me,” he said. “If I’m on second, my teammates can get me in with a hit.”
Whatever he lacked in experience, Puig compensated for with his talent and instincts. He made a spectacular running catch to rob Guillermo Quiroz of a hit in the eighth inning. The next inning, he rocketed a misplaced slider by Romo into left field.
“I knew he was going to throw me a slider because that’s the best pitch he has,” Puig said. “He controlled me and my teammates with it yesterday. He’s a tremendous pitcher.”
Gonzalez followed with a hard-hit grounder that first baseman Buster Posey failed to backhand cleanly. Posey, whose regular position is catcher, tried to throw out Puig at second base, only to misfire, allowing him to advance to third. Ramirez was retired on a comebacker, then Andre Ethier drew a one-out walk to the load the bases. Uribe struck out, but Ellis doubled in the winning runs.
“Yesterday, I struck out four times,” Puig said. ‘Today, I struck out twice more. Tomorrow, I could have 10 more. But if my team wins, everything’s fine.”
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