LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig is making his mark against left-handed pitching while helping the Dodgers in a major way.
The Cuban outfielder’s three-run homer highlighted a five-run first inning in a 9-3 rout of the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night, extending the Dodgers’ NL West lead to six games with 10 remaining.
“It’s nice to have that separation,” third baseman Justin Turner said, “but nothing is certain until that number is zero. The important thing is to stay hot and build some momentum as you’re rolling into the playoffs.”
Puig is doing just that against lefties. He has four home runs and two walks against them since returning from the minor leagues earlier this month. He’s started all six games in September against lefties, who have given the Dodgers fits this season.
“He’s done some things mechanically,” manager Dave Roberts said. “When he elevates the ball with his strength good thing are going to happen. He’s getting to a lot of pitches he wasn’t prior.”
The Dodgers beat left-hander Madison Bumgarner 2-1 in Monday’s series opener and got to fellow lefty Matt Moore (11-12) early.
“It was good for us to break out,” Roberts said.
Puig is batting .333 (6 for 16) with eight RBI in seven games at home since being recalled on Sept. 2.
“That’s the guy we all know he can be,” Turner said. “He’s an exciting player on both sides of the ball. We knew he could be a game-changer for us.”
The Dodgers pounded out 12 hits in taking two of three from the rival Giants, who remained tied in the NL wild-card race after both the Mets and Cardinals lost earlier. The Dodgers conclude the regular season with three games at San Francisco next week.
Kenta Maeda (16-9) allowed two runs — one earned — and three hits in five innings while improving to 4-0 against the Giants this season. The right-hander struck out six and walked one in making his 30th start of the season for just the second time in his career. Maeda is one win from tying Rick Sutcliffe’s record by a rookie set in 1979.
Moore gave up six runs and seven hits in one inning, walked one and struck out none in a messy outing for the left-hander who had pitched exceptionally well at Dodger Stadium.
“It was a bad day to have a bad day,” he said. “There was a lot of small stuff going on.”
Moore was one out away from throwing his first career no-hitter on Aug. 25 in Los Angeles when Corey Seager broke it up with a single. He previously held the Dodgers to just one unearned run in 15 1/3 innings.
“He was making a lot of mistakes and we made them pay,” outfielder Kike Hernandez said. “Last time he was making every pitch.”
After two close games, including a 2-0 loss Tuesday, the Dodgers put the game away early.
They took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of that inning on Puig’s 11th homer and RBI singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Maeda.
They made it 6-2 in the second on Turner’s sacrifice fly. Howie Kendrick doubled in two more runs with two outs in the third. The Dodgers added another run on pinch-hitter Andrew Toles’ RBI double in the sixth.
The Giants’ runs came on Angel Pagan’s RBI single in the first, Ehire Adrianza’s homer in the second and Brandon Belt’s RBI single in the sixth.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto had an MRI on Wednesday that confirmed a Grade 1 groin strain, which forced him out of his start in the sixth inning Tuesday. He’s questionable for his next start, although manager Bruce Bochy hasn’t ruled him for the Giants’ next series. ... SS Brandon Crawford came out of Tuesday’s victory with a dislocated left pinky on his glove hand in the second. He’ll need a couple days to recover, Bochy said.
Dodgers: LHP Scott Kazmir comes off the disabled list to start Friday against Colorado after missing nearly a month with neck inflammation. He’s expected to throw about 90 pitches, but will be monitored. He threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.
REELIN’ IT IN
Dodgers outfielders Kike Hernandez and Puig made dramatic catches in the fourth. A charging Hernandez caught Belt’s fly ball to center, landing on his front side fully stretched for the second out of the inning. Puig tracked Joe Panik’s ball over his shoulder, made the catch and, with his momentum carrying him, climbed a step up on the right field scoreboard before jumping down to end the inning. “His catch was way better than mine,” Hernandez said. “I never thought he was going to make the play and sure enough he did.”
TROUBLE BEHIND THE PLATE
Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz had a troublesome first that led to the Giants’ first run. Denard Span walked and took second on a passed ball by Ruiz before Pagan singled to right. Puig’s throw to the plate bounced once and Ruiz missed the tag in a close play.
Bochy visited retiring Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully before the game, joining a long list of opposing managers and players who’ve done so this season. They chatted in Scully’s fifth-floor booth, where Bochy said he could “see where he does his magic.”
“I was telling him all the memories that go through my head,” the manager said. “I’ve been coming to the ballpark for 21 years; he’s been here 67 years. He’s an incredible man who has done so much for the game.”
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (11-10, 3.97 ERA) starts the series opener against the Padres. He’s 3-1 with a 4.31 ERA in five starts against them this season. He’s struggled in his last two outings, allowing nine runs (eight earned) in 11.0 innings.
Dodgers: LHP Brett Anderson (0-2, 24.75) starts the series opener against the Rockies for the first time since Aug. 20 after being on the disabled list with a blister on his left index finger.