DENVER — As Yasiel Puig walked by his locker Thursday night, Matt Kemp called out to him: “Steak and eggs!”
Puig laughed and shook his head. Puig had told Kemp that a diet of steak and eggs would help him regain his power.
Most defeats call for an informal ban on laughter in the clubhouse. The Dodgers’ 9-5 defeat to the Colorado Rockies didn’t call for such measures.
The loss was only the Dodgers’ second in their last 12 games and there was nothing to indicate their hot streak was over. Puig played all nine innings a day after crashing into the right-field wall. Kemp homered for the second consecutive day and Adrian Gonzalez for the third. Hanley Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 15 games, his longest since he won the National League batting title in 2009.
“Definitely a good start to the road trip,” Gonzalez said of the nine-game trek that includes stops in San Francisco and Arizona.
The Dodgers, who have credited their improved health for their turnaround, are about to become even healthier. Carl Crawford is expected to be activated Friday for the start of a three-game series against the Giants.
Although the Dodgers are about to get back their leadoff hitter, they are also about to make one or more of their outfielders unhappy. Mattingly has already said Puig will play every day, provided he is healthy and doesn’t fall into a slump. That leaves three former All-Stars to share the two remaining positions.
Assuming Puig starts in right field and Crawford in left Friday, who plays in center? Kemp, who has homered in his last two games? Or Ethier, a more consistent defender with a career .444 average against Giants starter Matt Cain?
“I want to play every day,” Kemp said. “That’s what I’m used to doing. You can’t get in a rhythm sitting down. I understand the situation, but I would love to keep on playing, like I have been in the past.”
Kemp, who is recovering from an off-season shoulder operation that sapped his power early in the season, collected four hits in the last two days. He hit a few other balls hard.
“I don’t think I’ve had two games in a row where I felt really good at the plate, so it’s a sign I’m getting better,” Kemp said.
Gonzalez also appeared locked in, as he was four for five with a double. Earlier this season, he said he never regained his power after undergoing an operation similar to Kemp’s before the 2011 season. He insisted he didn’t feel any different in the last three games, even though he hit a home run in each of them.
“Still a singles hitter,” he said. “It’s Colorado. High altitude.”
As for Puig, who was one for five and scored from first on a sixth-inning double by Gonzalez, he said his leg felt fine.
“What I feel is a little tightness and fatigue in the leg, but it doesn’t hurt,” Puig said.
Chris Capuano was hit hard for the second consecutive start, as he was charged with six runs (five earned) and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Capuano was replaced in the fifth inning by Brandon League, who was charged with two runs of his own after giving up an inherited runner to score.