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Yasiel Puig mostly rides the bench in Dodgers' final game

Yasiel Puig mostly rides the bench in Dodgers' final game
Yasiel Puig walks into the dugout after the Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Yasiel Puig was an All-Star this year.

But Puig was largely a spectator Tuesday evening in what turned out to be his team's final game of the season.

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With the Dodgers trailing the St. Louis Cardinals two games to one, Manager Don Mattingly decided to bench the slumping center fielder in Game 4 of a National League division series. Puig's position was taken by Andre Ethier.

Puig, who struck out eight times in his last nine at-bats, was understanding of Mattingly's decision.

"We have to win this game," Puig said before the game. "I've played very poorly in this series."

Puig's role in the Dodgers' season-ending 3-2 defeat at Busch Stadium was as a ninth-inning pinch-runner for A.J. Ellis, who drew a walk from closer Trevor Rosenthal.

Puig said he played with an injured right ankle in recent weeks, but downplayed how it affected his performance in this series. Puig twisted the ankle stealing a base at Chicago's Wrigley Field on Sept. 21.

"When I go to look for the ball, my first step bothers me," he said. "But I'm receiving treatment."

Puig batted .339 in his last 15 regular-season games.

In the Dodgers' 3-1 defeat Monday night, he tripled to end a streak of seven consecutive strikeouts. Asked whether he thought that triple would help him emerge from his slump, Puig laughed and replied, "It helped but I struck out in my next at-bat."

Puig praised the Cardinals pitchers.

"They've pitched me from the middle of the plate to the outside," he said. "I knew they would do that, but I haven't been able to connect."

Puig denied that his problems were related to the pitch by Adam Wainwright that struck him on the shoulder in Game 1.

"The times they've struck me out and the at-bats in which I failed to get a hit have nothing to do with when they hit me in the first game. I don't know. Maybe I'm speeding up too much because I want my team to win and advance to the World Series."

Hanley Ramirez's farewell?

Hanley Ramirez shook his head. He didn't want to talk.

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Ramirez, who batted .429 in the series, might have played his last game with the Dodgers. He will be a free agent this off-season, when his six-year, $70-million contract expires.

Ramirez, who turns 31 in December, was acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins in the middle of the 2012 season.

He was a dominant offensive force last season, when he batted .345 in 86 regular-season games. Limited by injuries, he batted .283 with 13 home runs and 71 runs batted in this year.

This year, Ramirez and the Dodgers agreed to postpone talks about a new contract until the end of the season.

The Dodgers' first order of business with Ramirez will likely be to decide whether to extend him a qualifying offer, which is essentially a one-year deal for about $15 million. The Dodgers can re-sign Ramirez even if he rejects the offer. If he turns down the offer and signs with another team, they would receive a draft pick as compensation.

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