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Yasiel Puig's power puts the game away for Dodgers, 5-0

Rookie hits grand slam in the eighth against Atlanta Braves, continuing his charmed start. Zack Greinke is sharp over seven innings.

June 06, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Since Yasiel Puig has been called up the Cuban slugger has given the Dodgers a much needed boost of energy, Thursday that translated to a eighth inning grand slam to give L.A. a 5-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Since Yasiel Puig has been called up the Cuban slugger has given the Dodgers… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)

The Dodgers are already selling Yasiel Puig shirts in their team store. Before the Cuban outfielder played in his fourth major league game on Thursday, he shot a television commercial with Adrian Gonzalez for an upcoming in-stadium promotion.

Too soon? Maybe not.

Puig has already created more magical moments than some players do in their entire careers, the latest an eighth-inning grand slam in the Dodgers' 5-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium.

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The home run was Puig's third since he was called up from double A on Monday and blew open a game in which the Dodgers held a 1-0 lead up to that point. Puig was two for four, giving him this third multihit game in four days.

Puig is seven for 16 with nine runs batted in.

Zack Greinke, who pitched seven scoreless innings to earn his first victory in four starts, couldn't recall ever seeing anything like this. Greinke played alongside Mike Trout last year after a midseason trade to the Angels.

"That was pretty special last year, but I didn't get to see it when he first came up," Greinke said. "It's early, so we'll see."

Gonzalez and Manager Don Mattingly were standing next to each other when pinch hitter Hanley Ramirez drew a walk from reliever Cory Gearrin to load the bases for Puig in the eighth inning

"It should be a grand slam here," Mattingly recalled one of them saying.

Puig lined the first pitch delivered to him into the right-field pavilion.

Standing in the dugout, Clayton Kershaw put a hand on his head, his mouth wide open in disbelief.

"Pretty special," Kershaw said. "He's got some major power. I'd pay to watch."

The Dodgers clubhouse was buzzing after the game.

The players in the Spanish-speaking district of the locker room were laughing at how Luis Cruz emptied a tub of water on Puig's head as Puig was being interviewed on the field by a television reporter.

"You don't have to shower," Ramirez said.

Puig smiled.

In fact, Puig smiled a lot, before, during and after speaking with reporters again.

"Things are going my way," he said with a shrug.

Mattingly was smiling too, after weeks of looking downcast as his last-place team piled up losses.

"He plays with such energy," Mattingly said. "There's a joy in his game. It's the way you're supposed to play. It just feels so fresh. That's what I like."

The injection of enthusiasm reminded Mattingly "a little bit" of when Manny Ramirez came to the Dodgers in 2008 and turned around what was an offensively inept team. But there was one major difference: Ramirez had a track record.

"This cat's a different animal," Mattingly said. "He's a young kid. You see it in spring training and you're like 'Can he keep it up?' The more you see it, the more you believe it."

Puig's late-game heroics overshadowed Greinke's best performance of the season. Greinke held the Braves to four hits and struck out seven. He threw a season-high 117 pitches, the last nine getting him out of a first-and-third jam with no outs.

Greinke, who signed a $147-million contract over the winter, was slowed in spring training by an arm injury. He was still building up arm strength at the beginning of the regular season and fractured his collarbone in a bench-clearing incident in only his second start.

Greinke missed a month and hadn't looked particularly sharp since his return from the disabled list last month. In two of his last three starts, he pitched only four innings. In the other, he pitched 51/3 .

"I've been struggling, obviously," Greinke said. "But I feel like I've been close."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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