Yasiel Puig’s phenomenal rookie season reached a new pinnacle Sunday when he turned a historic display of futility into a footnote washed away by more Dodgers glory.
Puig, after flailing through three of the team’s 20 strikeouts against the Cincinnati Reds, hammered an 11th-inning home run into Dodger Stadium’s left-field pavilion, delivering his team a 1-0 victory.
The strikeout total broke the record for the most by a Dodgers team in the modern era (since 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“You put your at-bats behind you every single time — what’s in the past is in the past,” said Puig, who thrust both arms upward in the instant after his bat charged through a changeup delivered by Reds reliever Curtis Partch (0-1).
“Even though three of those 20 strikeouts were mine, I kept giving it everything I had,” Puig, speaking in Spanish, said through a translator. “We adjusted inning by inning, and the result was the result. My team won.”
The victory, their 26th in 32 games, made the first-place Dodgers 9-1 since the All-Star break and 56-48 overall, and increased their lead over Arizona to 2 1/2 games in the National League West.
Cincinnati starting pitcher Tony Cingrani, a left-handed rookie drafted in 2011 from Rice University, allowed one hit and one walk in seven innings, striking out 11. The hit was a single that Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano lined up the middle with two outs in the third.
Dodgers bats waved at even more air after Cingrani left, as relievers Manny Parra, Sam LeCure and Partch combined for nine strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
“I don’t even know if the guys realized [they had 20 strikeouts]; you’re just playing the inning, trying to win a game,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. “One of those days. I didn’t realize it was 20, but it wasn’t in nine innings.
“I don’t know what it tells us other than it tells us we got a win today.”
Every starter struck out, with the Nos. 2-4 batters, Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, and catcher Tim Federowicz each whiffing three times.
Even substitutes Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto and Elian Herrera went down on strikes in their first at-bats.
Federowicz struck out following a Juan Uribe double in the eighth inning and then left Ramirez stranded at second in the 10th after a leadoff single.
Puig’s personal frustration was amplified when he walked to lead off the seventh but was picked off first base by Cingrani.
Then in the ninth, he sharply objected to a called strike, glared at plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, then went down swinging on the next pitch.
“I went to do what Gonzalez advised me to do,” Puig said about his 11th-inning mind-set. “Go hit the ball, have patience.”
The Dodgers were able to extend the game because their pitchers, led by starter Capuano, limited the Reds to three hits and two walks.
After Capuano surrendered a single grounded up the middle by Joey Votto, the Reds’ No. 3 hitter, he retired the next 13 batters.
The Reds threatened in the sixth when No. 8 batter Devin Mesoraco hit a leadoff double and moved to third on a bunt.
With the Dodgers’ infield in, Cincinnati’s Derrick Robinson failed to get a suicide squeeze bunt in play, then bounced to third baseman Uribe, who got Mesoraco into a rundown in which he was tagged out.
Relievers Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League (6-3) — who won for the third time in a week — contributed to the shutout with 41/3 innings of hitless work.