Yasiel Puig took four steps out of the batter’s box, flipped his bat behind him and started his home run trot on a ball that left his bat at 109 mph and traveled 421 feet into Dodger Stadium’s left-field pavilion in the sixth inning Tuesday night.
Yes, this one was worth admiring.
Puig’s vicious swing on a Bryan Shaw hanging slider was the second homer in a three-pitch span that turned a potential night of futility for the Dodgers into a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies in front of 43,719.
Chris Taylor preceded Puig’s homer with a two-run shot to left field, his sixth of the season, to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Puig’s fifth homer made it 5-3, a lead relievers Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields and Kenley Jansen preserved.
The Dodgers are still six games under .500 and struggling to build and maintain momentum, but they’ve won five of six games, including a three-game weekend sweep in Washington, and are only 41/2 games behind the first-place Rockies in the mild National League West.
“We’ve been playing good baseball, and that sweep in D.C. was huge for our confidence,” Taylor said. “We know we’re a good team. We knew we were gonna turn things around eventually. Now, I think we can go out there and play free and easy and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Tuesday night’s game swung wildly in the sixth inning, with the Rockies taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning and the Dodgers answering with their three-spot in the bottom of the inning.
Reliever J.T. Chargois took over in the sixth in a 2-2 tie and walked Trevor Story. The Rockies shortstop stole second and took third on a passed ball by Yasmani Grandal, who couldn’t glove a 95-mph fastball that was not too far inside.
Chargois (2-1) struck out Carlos Gonzalez looking with a slider, but Ian Desmond, with the infield in, slapped a single to right field for a 3-2 Colorado lead.
The Dodgers were held hitless by starter Chad Bettis for 41/3 innings, but the right-hander was pulled in favor of Shaw (1-3) to start the sixth. This seemed to be to the Dodgers’ liking.
Matt Kemp led off with a single to right center. Cody Bellinger grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Taylor crushed a 1-and-2 slider for his homer, and Puig smoked an 0-and-1 slider for his fifth homer in his last seven starts.
“We’re built as a team that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and when we’re not doing that, when we’re not walking, not manufacturing runs, it doesn’t look good,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But now we’re hitting the ball out of the park and we’re still getting guys on base, taking walks when we need to. There were a lot of good things tonight.”
The Dodgers scored twice in the first when Justin Turner doubled and scored on a single to left center by Kemp, whose .471 average with runners in scoring position leads the majors.
Bellinger, mired in a one-for-21 slump, ripped a double to right and Taylor walked to load the bases. Puig held on a full-count changeup that was just inside, his walk forcing in a run for a 2-0 lead.
The Rockies cut the lead to 2-1 in the second on Desmond’s homer against Brock Stewart, who gave up two runs and five hits in four innings of a spot start. Colorado pulled even 2-2 in the third on consecutive two-out singles by Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra and Nolan Arenado.
Erik Goeddel threw a scoreless fifth for the Dodgers and Jansen, who has given up one earned run over his last 14 innings after his rocky start, closed the game with his ninth save.
“When the other guys have the bat in their hands, they’re gonna hurt you,” Jansen said. “It happened early on this year, and you guys made a big deal about it, but I never put it in my head. I just kept going, man. I know I can do my job.”