Puig, indeed! Walk-off on E extends streak

June 23rd, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig delivered a walk-off, 4-3 win over the Nationals Wednesday night as a single in the ninth turned into a de facto inside-the-park home run after a misplay from center fielder Michael Taylor allowed Puig and Howie Kendrick to score.

Wilson Ramos had given the Nationals the lead late with a solo homer in the eighth, but the ninth-inning rally against Shawn Kelley gave the Dodgers their sixth straight win and a sweep over the Nationals, who have lost a season-high five consecutive games.

"This is a test. Nobody said it was going to be easy," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That's why you try to build as many games above .500 as you can because you're going to go through, every team's going to go through a period like this."

Both teams got strong starts from their young pitchers, with Julio Urias, 19, and Joe Ross, 23, each allowing two earned runs in a combined 11 innings. Urias was limited to around 90 pitches going into the game and didn't use them efficiently enough to reach the game's later innings, a limitation that is becoming quite familiar.

"I struggled a bit as opposed to the other starts, but the good thing is the team was able to win at the end," Urias said through an interpreter. "The curve and the fastball just weren't there. It wasn't until the last inning until I felt more comfortable with it."

Ross left the game in the seventh inning with one out and runners on second and third, but left-hander Oliver Perez worked his way out of the jam by striking out Kiké Hernandez and forcing Corey Seager into a flyout. Perez had been struggling recently; he had allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings in his last six outings.

The game was back and forth in the first three innings, with the Dodgers starting things off in the first with Chase Utley's 1000th career run. Back-to-back doubles from the Nats' No. 8 and 9 hitters, Danny Espinosa and Ross, gave Washington a 2-1 advantage that was erased by Seager's team-leading 16th homer of the year in the third inning.


Wild Horse rides again:
Initially, Puig's accomplishment was just getting the winning run on the basepaths against Nationals interim closer Kelley, but a simple play turned into so much more as the ball dribbled under Taylor's glove to the center-field wall. Kendrick scored easily, but Puig had to ignore a stop sign from third base coach Chris Woodward to reach home on a long, celebratory dive. Per Statcast™, Puig's home-to-home time came in at 15.20 seconds, tying him with Jason Kipnis on Tuesday for the fastest home-to-home time of 2016. More >

"I was ready for the hit and nobody thought the ball would go through, so when I did see the ball go through, I had to talk to my hamstring so I could figure out far I could go on the bases," Puig said.

Tough night for Taylor: The worst night of Taylor's young career began by going 0-for-5 at the plate with five strikeouts, before his gaffe in the ninth inning sealed it. More >

"I know this isn't the player that I am," Taylor said. "Just a bad day."

1,000 runs for Utley: After a leadoff single and advancing to third in the first inning, Chase Utley scored the 1,000th run of his 14-year career on a wild pitch from Ross. Utley is the 14th active player to score 1,000 runs in his career and the first Dodger to reach the mark since Devon White in 1999. More >

Buffalo Big Fly: Ramos' homer in the eighth inning traveled 108.4 mph and traveled a projected 422 feet, according to Statcast™. Ramos has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games, posting a .338 average with three doubles, six homers and 14 RBIs further making his case to make his first All-Star game next month. More >


"My legs." -- Puig on who made the decision to run home and score the game-winner

"I'm sure he feels terrible. We've got to stay with him. We've got to give him some love because right now he's probably feeling like the loneliest guy on earth." -- Baker on Taylor


As if scoring 1,000 career runs wasn't enough of a thrill, Utley made a fifth inning foul popup off the bat of Joe Ross much more interesting than it needed it to be. Utley ran between Adrian Gonzalez and Puig to catch the ball in foul territory, but bobbled it. As the ball looked like it was about to hit the ground, Gonzalez got his glove just under the ball to register a very unusual 4-3 putout. More >


There have been two players who played in the National League as teenagers since 2010: Urias and Bryce Harper. In Wednesday's matchup of a reigning MVP and MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 prospect in baseball, Urias got the better of Harper and then some, striking out the outfielder twice and inducing a weak pop foul.


With Ryan Zimmerman on third and two outs in the second, Danny Espinosa's long fly ball sailed to the top of the left field wall, but bounced back onto the field and stayed in play. A crew chief review confirmed the ball stayed in play and wasn't a home run, giving Espinosa an RBI double with Zimmerman scoring. Ross followed up with another double in the next at-bat to score Espinosa.

After a walk to lead off the seventh inning, Anthony Rendon attempted to steal second and was called safe by second base umpire Cory Blaser. The Dodgers challenged the safe call and won, as replay showed that Yasmani Grandal's throw and Seager's tag came before Rendon hit second.


Nationals: The Nats have an off-day Thursday before they continue this three-city road trip in Milwaukee on Friday night. Max Scherzer will take the mound; he was dominant the last time he faced the Brewers in 2015. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before he allowed a hit, the only one he allowed that outing with 16 strikeouts.

Dodgers: After an off-day Thursday, the Dodgers will travel to PNC Park to take on the Pirates and rookie Jameson Taillon on Friday. While the identity of LA's starter is not yet known, first pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PT.

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