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Ryu's bat strikes back

Pitcher does it all as L.A. romps. Puig has four hits and Gonzalez homers twice.

August 31, 2013|Bill Shaikin
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu held San Diego to one run on eight hits through 6 1/3 innings while striking out three batters. Ryu also went 1-for-3 at the plate with a run batted in and a run scored in the Dodgers' 9-2 victory over the Padres.
Hyun-Jin Ryu held San Diego to one run on eight hits through 6 1/3 innings… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Even for Hollywood's team, this was a bit much.

With pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu at bat, Yoda appeared on the video board at Dodger Stadium, giving the advice that has served galaxies well for generations: "Do or do not. There is no try."

On his next swing, Ryu powered a double, far over the head of the left fielder and off the wall. When Yasiel Puig followed with a single, Ryu charged around third base and slid home, safely but rather awkwardly.

"My initial thought was, 'I just have to stay alive. I have to be safe no matter what,' " Ryu said through an interpreter. "After I was safe, I thought, 'I should probably practice how to slide.' "

The force is with him, and with all the Dodgers. Ryu doubled in the tying run, scored the go-ahead run and gave up one run in 61/3 innings of the Dodgers' 9-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday. The Dodgers reclaimed a 101/2-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, with 28 games to play.

The Dodgers also clinched their first 22-victory month since moving to Los Angeles in 1958.

For the home team, the evening was good fun all around, most notably for Puig.

Adrian Gonzalez, the first baseman the Padres could not afford to pay, haunted his hometown team with a pair of two-run home runs. A.J. Ellis homered too, Hanley Ramirez doubled twice and drove in two runs, and Andre Ethier threw out a runner at home plate.

But it was Star Wars Night and Puig Redemption Night.

Puig, yanked from Wednesday's game by Manager Don Mattingly, went four for five with two stolen bases. Puig had three singles, a double, and no fundamental gaffes, and he raised his batting average to .354.

Puig said he had no extra incentive to perform well Friday because of his discipline Wednesday.

"I just came to play baseball like I always do," he said through an interpreter.

Did he feel Mattingly's message had taken hold?

"What message?" Puig said. "I always give 100%. A player needs to give 100% every game."

Mattingly clearly had tired of talking about Wednesday's incident, even for the purpose of drawing a contrast to how well Puig performed Friday.

"Do we have to go back to that all the time, every time?" Mattingly said. "The other day is over. He played great tonight."

Ramirez was none too thrilled to be asked about Puig's bad day Wednesday and big night Friday.

"I was waiting for that question," Ramirez said. "Everybody knows he is an unbelievable player and a great kid."

A smart kid too. Puig, asked in English if he were one of those players that prefers to let his play speak for itself, did not wait for the translation into Spanish.

"Si," he said immediately.

Ryu improved his record to 13-5 with a 3.02 earned-run average. He finished the month of August with a 2.61 ERA, pretty good on most pitching staffs but fairly pedestrian on the Dodgers' staff. Clayton Kershaw finished the month at 1.01, followed by Zack Greinke at 1.23 and Ricky Nolasco at 1.64.

Edinson Volquez made his Dodgers debut in the eighth inning, making his first relief appearance in five years.

Volquez, signed by the Dodgers after posting a league-worst 6.01 ERA for the Padres, became the club-record 26th pitcher used by the team this season. He pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

With a victory Saturday, the Dodgers would finish August with a .793 winning percentage, second in L.A. history to the .850 mark posted in April 1977.

The current second-best percentage: .792, set this July. The Dodgers are 41-11 since July 1.


Twitter: @BillShaikin

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