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Dodgers sweep D-backs, pad NL West lead

September 8, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig stayed hot since his return to the Dodgers with a pair of RBIs to key a 3-1 win over the D-backs on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. The win gave L.A. a sweep over Arizona, five straight wins and a season-high five-game lead over the

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig stayed hot since his return to the Dodgers with a pair of RBIs to key a 3-1 win over the D-backs on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. The win gave L.A. a sweep over Arizona, five straight wins and a season-high five-game lead over the Giants in the National League West.
After an RBI double from Paul Goldschmidt put the D-backs up, 1-0, in the first, the Dodgers punched back against D-backs lefty Robbie Ray in the bottom of the inning. Corey Seager's NL-leading 39th double scored Howie Kendrick, then Seager was brought home two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Puig.
"Yasiel … he can do so many great things, but I think the situational at-bat early in the game helped his confidence," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "When you can start him and have [Josh] Reddick and [Andrew] Toles, we've got some depth."

In the sixth inning, Puig took Ray deep for his second home run since getting recalled by the Dodgers from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday.
"It was a curveball," Ray said of the pitch Puig sent yard. "I was trying to backdoor it, and it just didn't break enough and he's a strong hitter. Even though he might have gotten it off the end of the bat, he's strong enough to hit it out."
Ray allowed only two hits while striking out 12 over six innings, but three walks and a wild pitch in the first inning had him pitching from behind all game.
Dodgers rookie Brock Stewart got the win with five innings of one-run ball, improving his ERA to 6.55. After allowing 15 earned runs in his first 12 big league innings, the right-hander has allowed just one in his last 10.
"Didn't have my best stuff, but happy with the way I battled and competed out there," Stewart said. "I just want to help the team win. It's definitely a whirlwind, but definitely glad to be here and be a part of this program."
Seven L.A. relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings, with Kenley Jansen shutting the door for his 43rd save. The eight total pitchers tied a club record for number of pitchers used in a nine-inning game.
"You have the arms available to you," Roberts said. "It's nice to get everybody involved. It was a team effort. I like the matchups for the guys in the bullpen."
Rookies getting it done: Stewart was the fourth straight rookie starting pitcher to take the mound for Los Angeles, and he got the win, but it was another rookie who got the most important out. Left-hander Grant Dayton was called on in the seventh to face Rickie Weeks Jr., pinch-hitting for Jake Lamb, after Jesse Chavez left the bases loaded with two outs. Dayton struck out Weeks swinging after an eight-pitch battle, letting out a yell as he saw Weeks' bat find nothing but air on a 91-mph fastball.
"I was just like, 'I gotta throw strikes,'" Dayton said. "That's what I was trying to do, trust my pitches, my curveball, my fastball. Just trying to throw it over the plate and make something happen." More >

Ray with the K's: Ray probably deserved a better fate in this one after striking out 12, but he did not help his cause in the first. Ray walked three during the inning and also issued a wild pitch that would come back to bite him. After that, Puig's homer was the only hit Ray allowed.
"It's always nice to strike out a lot of guys," Ray said. "But when you don't get the win, it doesn't matter." More >

Maybe next time:Carlos Ruiz started the game at catcher for the Dodgers, but he didn't finish it. Roberts pulled Ruiz for usual starter Yasmani Grandal entering the ninth as Jansen warmed up. The last time Ruiz caught Jansen, two balls found their way to the backstop and helped blow a save in a 6-4 loss to the Cubs on Aug. 27. Ruiz has since worked hard to familiarize himself with the L.A. pitching staff, catching bullpens at every opportunity.
"Got a lot of familiarity with a two-run lead, and he'd hit if things got crazy and there was a ninth inning," Roberts said. "That's why it felt good having Yasmani in there."

Leave 'em loaded: The D-backs had their chances against the Dodgers, but were unable to capitalize, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 men stranded. In the seventh, Weeks pinch-hit for Lamb and worked the count full against Dayton before striking out.
"That's when we use him to hit, in those situations off a left-handed pitcher," Hale said of Weeks. "It's tough to hit for Jake, but ]with the] game on the line we thought that was our chance. We always trust in Rickie; he always gives us good at-bats."
After singling to lead off the fifth, Chris Owings seemed to successfully steal second base as he slid between the legs of Charlie Culberson, well ahead of the tag. However, the Dodgers successfully challenged that Owings' leg came off the bag after his foot made first contact. The call was overturned, Owings was out and Paul Goldschmidt went down swinging a few pitches later to end the inning.

D-backs: After an off-day on Thursday, the D-backs will open up a 10-game homestand on Friday night against the Giants, with rookie Braden Shipley on the mound against San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner.
Dodgers: Two months after a herniated disk landed him on the disabled list, Clayton Kershaw will return to the mound as the Dodgers open a series in Miami at 4:10 p.m. PT on Friday. Kershaw only threw 50 pitches between his sole rehab start and a bullpen session that followed, so the ace might be limited in his return. Los Angeles is off on Thursday.
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Jack Baer is a reporter for based in Los Angeles.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.