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Timing is everything: Dodgers use Cuban connection to edge Padres

September 01, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hits a solo home run during the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hits a solo home run during the sixth inning… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Apparently Yasiel Puig and Paco Rodriguez figured Cuba did not have enough heritage, so they decided to provide a bit of their own.

It was Hollywood stuff, naturally, but on the Dodgers’ first Cuban Heritage day, it was Puig who provided the winning run, drilling a sixth-inning solo homer Sunday to reward another brilliant pitching effort by Zack Greinke in the Dodgers' 2-1 victory that completed a sweep of the Padres.

And with the tying run on third and one out, it was Rodriguez -- of Cuban descent -- who came on to get the two biggest outs of the day.

A little over a year ago, Puig was escaping Cuba under mysterious circumstances and then fairly quickly signing a $42-million contract with the Dodgers.

Since being called up June 3, Puig has been a lightning rod for the Dodgers, on and off the field, but there’s no denying the 22-year-old knows drama.

Greinke was locked in a 1-1 pitching duel with San Diego’s Tyson Ross when the heat and pitching count sent Ross to the sideline to start the sixth. And that gave the Dodgers new life.

Padres right-hander Dale Thayer got Adrian Gonzalez to bounce out, but Puig hit the first pitch he saw, a breaking ball, into the left-field stands for his 14th home run of the season.

For Greinke, Sunday was just more of the same, which is to say more excellence. He won his sixth consecutive decision (1.24 earned-run average) and raised his record to 14-3.

On a hot and humid Sunday afternoon before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 52,168, Greinke went seven strong innings, holding the Padres to  two hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

Both hits came back to back in the third inning, and following a walk. Alexi Amarista’s hit scored San Diego’s lone run.

The Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the inning when Carl Crawford doubled with two outs and Mark Ellis singled him home.

Ross was otherwise overpowering in his five innings, striking out a career-high 10. He gave up five hits and walked one.

Ronald Belisario relieved Grienke in the eighth inning, but quickly got into trouble. He gave up a leadoff single to Reymond Fuentes –- his first career hit –- and then threw a wild pitch to advance Fuentes to second.

Belisario got Jesus Guzman to bounce out to second for the first out, advancing Fuentes to third. The Dodgers then called on Rodriguez to face Will Venable, San Diego’s hottest hitter.

But Rodriguez, whose ERA is 1.85, delivered in the clutch, as he has all season. He struck out Venable and then got pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia on a comebacker to end the threat.

Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 24th save, converting his 17th consecutive opportunity.

It was the Dodgers’ fourth straight victory.

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