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Yasiel Puig messes up but earns redemption in Dodgers’ wild 9-5, 17-inning victory over Padres

Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig flips his bat aside as he watches his two-run single against the Padres in the 17th inning Sunday.

Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig flips his bat aside as he watches his two-run single against the Padres in the 17th inning Sunday.

(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

By 7:30 p.m., five hours and 47 minutes after this absurdity of a game started, the sun had already set behind Petco Park. The Dodgers had emptied the bench and the bullpen across 17 innings. Now, with the final out recorded, the team convened in the center of the diamond to celebrate a 9-5 victory over the Padres.

Just moments before, the sprinklers in right field came alive. No one, especially not the grounds crew, expected the game to last this long.

“There were a lot of things that happened today that you don’t see,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “That rarely ever happens.”

How preposterous was the afternoon? J.P. Howell swung a bat. Clayton Kershaw was used as a pinch-hitter. The Dodgers (22-23) sent nine pitchers to the mound. Ross Stripling, who was scheduled to start Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, logged the last three innings.

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The lineup took 65 at-bats, most of them wasted, some of them tantalizing, a few truly productive. After puzzling his team with his passivity on the bases in the ninth, Yasiel Puig broke the 5-5 deadlock with a two-run single in the 17th, spurring a four-run rally.

Items that could dominate the conversation on a normal day turned into footnotes. Kenta Maeda labored through five innings in another confounding start; he carried a no-hitter into the fifth, then gave up four runs. Justin Turner provided a tying pinch-hit homer in the seventh. Kenley Jansen was conquered by Melvin Upton Jr. for the second time in three days, this time on an RBI triple that tied the score in the eighth.

The day stripped the roster bare and left the Dodgers exhausted. A.J. Ellis, the 35-year-old backup catcher, caught all 17 innings. Chase Utley, the 37-year-old second baseman, recorded out after out in the field. Howie Kendrick, the 32-year-old infielder, hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the eighth for a short-lived 5-4 lead.

“To a man, everyone contributed today,” Roberts said. “For us, it’s something I believe is really going to propel us.”

The Dodgers snapped a four-game losing streak, then boarded buses bound for Los Angeles and planned to regroup. Roberts was unsure who would start Tuesday’s game. He lacked a detailed explanation for why Chin-Hui Tsao, a reliever who gifted San Diego a walk-off walk to decide Saturday’s 11-inning Padres victory, spent the entirety of Sunday in the dugout.

In the final inning, Puig atoned for a frightful afternoon. He stranded a runner in the second inning. He ran into an out after his next at-bat. He could not track down a sinking liner in right field in the fifth, which granted Padres first baseman Wil Myers a three-run triple against Maeda. Puig smashed his bat after stranding two more runners in the sixth.

Then in the ninth, Puig baffled his teammates with his baserunning. After Puig led off with a single and took second base on a wild pitch, A.J. Ellis laid down a bunt. The would-be sacrifice forced the third baseman to make a play, clearing a path for Puig to run to third.

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Instead, he stayed anchored at second base as the shortstop ran to cover third and Ellis was thrown out at first.

“I got confused,” Puig said.

What confused him?

“I just didn’t run,” he said.

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As he ran to first, Ellis threw up his hands as Puig stayed put. “Come on!” he said. Roberts had a similar reaction in the dugout.

“I was shocked,” Roberts said. “I was shocked.”

Puig did not miss a sign, Roberts said. There was no sign. He just expected Puig to read the play in front of him.

“We all have our moments of mental errors,” Ellis said. “The thing that’s great about Yasiel, and for all of us, is you can learn from it, and be aware of it the next time you’re in that situation.”

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But Puig was still at second base when Carl Crawford hit a fly ball to left. The Dodgers could not capitalize.

As the game headed to extra innings, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told Stripling to be ready. Stripling went to the clubhouse to loosen up. He ventured to the bullpen in the 10th, and watched the relievers keep San Diego off the board.

For the offense, the final innings felt like torture. Howell struck out in the 13th. The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the 14th, only to watch the opportunity disappear when Crawford hit into a 4-2-3 double play. Kershaw advanced a runner to third base in the 15th, but Joc Pederson flied out to end the inning.

Kendrick sparked the four-run flurry off Padres reliever Luis Perdomo in the 17th with a leadoff double. In the aftermath, the relief for the Dodgers was palpable. They had endured walk-off losses the previous two days. Now, at least, they could return to Los Angeles without suffering a sweep.

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“We needed that,” Stripling said. “To steal one here, to be in a game like that, where things aren’t going well, and we could have easily not taken it seriously. We all came together as a team.”

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes


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