ST. LOUIS -- So far, it's been a memorable trip to St. Louis for Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers.
Puig set career highs with three home runs in a game and seven RBIs on Saturday as the Dodgers drubbed the Cardinals, 17-4, at Busch Stadium.
Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger also homered as Los Angeles (82-67) moved ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race before reclaiming first place in the NL West instead with the help of the Rockies' loss to the Giants on Saturday night. The Dodgers moved half a game ahead of the Rockies.
"We're feeling good," said Bellinger, who had a career-high six RBIs. "We've still got 13 [games] left to go, and we're going to try to win every game and finish this thing really strong."
The Dodgers much prefer to win the division, and with the way they're swinging the bats, it's hard not to believe they're capable of achieving their goal.
Los Angeles has homered in 23 consecutive games. In the Dodgers' last four games, all of them victories, they have scored 37 runs. They have amassed 29 runs in the first three games of the series against the Cardinals.
"Every game for the rest of the season is huge for us, whether you're talking about the Wild Card race or the division race," said third baseman Justin Turner, who was 3-for-3 and escaped injury when he was hit on the left forearm by John Gant in the third inning.
"Finding ways to win games and get into the playoffs is what's important," Turner said. "We're going to do everything we can to win the division. Hopefully, if for whatever reason we do fall a little short there, then we'll get in as a Wild Card."
Rich Hill (9-5) benefited from the Dodgers' latest offensive eruption. The veteran left-hander allowed four runs on two hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out eight.
Hill echoed Turner: Winning the West would be special.
"The goal is to win the division. I think that's the biggest thing," Hill said. "That's the goal. Ultimately, it's to get in the playoffs. Any way that can happen, we'll take it. We're swinging the bats well."
Everyone and everything took a backseat to Puig, who hit a bases-empty homer in the fourth, a three-run homer in the fifth and a three-run homer in the eighth. He has five homers and nine RBIs in his last nine at-bats. Puig's homers traveled a combined 1,225 feet, according to Statcast™.
With Puig and others heating up at the right time, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts likes the position in which his team finds itself."
"We knew all along we controlled our own destiny," Roberts said. "Obviously, the margin was not what it was last year, but we're playing some good teams, and for us to be playing some really good baseball right now speaks volumes to that clubhouse."
The Dodgers came to St. Louis facing a two-game deficit for the second Wild Card spot, but with a victory in the series finale Sunday they would leave with a two-game lead.
St. Louis took a 4-3 lead on Patrick Wisdom's fourth-inning grand slam against Hill. But the Dodgers answered with five in the fifth, two in the sixth, three in the eighth and four in the ninth.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Dodgers came right back after falling behind 4-3 in the fourth by scoring five runs in the fifth to seize control of the game. Bellinger's two-run single and Puig's three-run homer took the momentum away from the Cardinals and put the Dodgers on the road to the big win.
Machado collected his 500th and 501st RBIs of his career with his first-inning homer. Machado was able to retrieve the ball from a fan in right field in exchange for a bat. Machado told the fan, who was from Minneapolis, that he was going to give the ball to his mother.
HE SAID IT
"I think learning these pitchers over there is just one part of it. But I think also [Yadier Molina] does a good job back there with the pitching staff, and a lot of times they pitch backward. For us to get into a good count and take a pitch instead of just chasing [is important]. I think our chase rate is considerably lower in these last games." -- Roberts, on getting accustomed to St. Louis' young pitchers
The Dodgers will go for a sweep of the four-game series Sunday at 5:05 p.m. PT. Right-hander Thomas Stripling, who has replaced Alex Wood in the rotation, will make the start. Roberts hopes Stripling (8-3, 2.61 ERA) can throw as many as 75 pitches. Stripling will be opposed by Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (1-3, 4.70 ERA), who is making his second start since returning from a 119-day stint on the disabled list.