Beckett earns first win with help of Puig, Hanley
Righty solid for 6 1/3 innings; five-run Dodgers sixth helps cause
LOS ANGELES -- Former phenom Josh Beckett and current one Yasiel Puig teamed up Tuesday night to beat the Marlins, the team with which Beckett won a World Series more than a decade ago while playing in the city Puig now calls home.
The Dodgers handed Miami its fifth consecutive loss, 7-1, snapping Beckett's winless drought of 14 starts that stretched over two seasons and one operation. Puig, celebrating his bobblehead night, went 2-for-3 with a double, walk, RBI and run scored, his hitting streak now a career-high 13 games and his batting average up to .326.
"More of the same from Josh," manager Don Mattingly said of Beckett, who allowed one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings and is 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA.
But not more of the same from Puig, who has suddenly become a patient run producer after having been just about everything else but until recently.
"To me," said Mattingly, "he's growing up right before our eyes."
You don't have to be a 24-year-old to benefit from change. Beckett, who turns 34 on Thursday, has transitioned from thrower to pitcher, in part because A.J. Ellis made him do it.
"The best thing that happened to me was A.J. going on the disabled list," said Beckett, who explained that Ellis took some of his down time to prove a theory that Beckett would be a better pitcher if he used his curveball more.
"He brought me a sheet of paper showing me that both right-handers and left-handers had trouble hitting my curveball," he said. "Basically, he was telling me it was time to make a change.
"So, instead of throttling up a fastball, I can throttle back with a curve. I've always had a good curveball, but never a good feel for it, never for strike one. But I threw it tonight [eight times on first pitch]. Guys don't hit it, maybe because it's dying anyway, nobody throws it, and hitters don't see them often. And A.J. said a 70-mph curve makes that 90-93-mph fastball look faster."
Beckett stepped up the curveball deployment after his first start. Since then, he's allowed two runs or fewer in five of six starts. But in those games, the Dodgers scored a total of 14 runs.
"Honestly, I'm just glad we got Beckett some runs today," said Matt Kemp, who had two hits and an RBI. "He's been pitching his butt off, and we haven't really done anything to get him some run support. It's good to see everybody contributing tonight."
The Dodgers broke open a scoreless game with a five-run bottom of the sixth inning. Hanley Ramirez ripped a two-run double with one out, Adrian Gonzalez doubled home Ramirez, and Kemp singled in Gonzalez to chase losing starter Jacob Turner. A single by Carl Crawford, and a fielding error by Giancarlo Stanton, moved Kemp to third, and he scored an unearned run on Justin Turner's sacrifice fly.
The rally started with a hustle double by Dee Gordon, followed by a walk to Puig, who even had his mom throw out the ceremonial first pitch on a night when he displayed all five tools.
"I think the Dee Gordon at-bat ... I got ahead of him, 0-2. I just didn't put him away," said Jacob Turner. "When he's on base, obviously, he's fast. So your attention is somewhat divided. That's really the at-bat that changed the game."
Beckett did some serious pitching to escape a jam in the fourth. Stanton led off with an infield single, stole second and went to third on Casey McGehee's groundout. Beckett struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the second time, pitched around Garrett Jones for a walk, then struck out Marcell Ozuna for the second time.
Miami finally scored in the seventh. Jones (6-for-8 lifetime against Beckett) sent a line drive into the right-center-field gap that just grazed off the glove of Puig despite a full-out dive. Jones took third on Drew Butera's passed ball, and scored on Ozuna's sacrifice fly to right, despite a powerful throw from Puig that arrived home just late.
In the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter Chone Figgins was hit by a pitch, stole second and was doubled home by Puig.
Puig said he was honored to have a bobblehead, even if he questioned the resemblance.
"It came out pretty nice," he said, "but I think the face looks like [Juan] Uribe."