Dodgers ride hit parade to Game 1 win over Twins
Puig, Uribe lead charge with four hits apiece; Haren improves to 4-0
MINNEAPOLIS -- Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe had four hits each and Dan Haren improved to 4-0 Thursday as the Dodgers overcame three errors to beat the Twins, 9-4, in the first game of a split doubleheader at chilly Target Field.
With Puig and Uribe leading the offense, the Dodgers scored enough to counter the miscues that gave them a Major League-leaing 29 errors and left their manager dismayed by mental mistakes, despite the win.
"None of them are physical," said Don Mattingly. "We've got to eliminate that type of play. Guys have to take it upon themselves to focus. We're going to get better, get more consistent. It's just concentration."
Concentration, along with video and cage work, has helped Puig get hot. The slugger also walked and stole a base, reaching safely five times in a game for the first time in his career. Batting .235 on April 18, Puig has gone 16-for-40 since, including a two-run, two-out double in the second inning against Mike Pelfrey that gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Three of his four hits came with two outs.
"I've been concentrating more with the hitting coaches on pitches the pitchers get me out [with]," said Puig. "[Mark] McGwire and [John] Valentin are helping me not get too anxious at the plate."
Uribe contributed two RBIs and scored twice as part of his four-hit day. The veteran third baseman is batting .327 with 14 RBIs to pick up some of the offensive slack from slow-starting outfielders Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford.
"Usually, guys are who they are," Mattingly said, a reference to Uribe's .254 career average. "But he's been huge for us."
Chris Perez inherited two baserunners from J.P. Howell in the eighth inning, retired all five batters he faced and earned his first save of the year. Haren, who appeared on the ropes in the fifth inning, made it through 6 2/3, charged with four runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out seven and walked three.
Scouts in the press box taking refuge from temperatures in the 40s were unimpressed with Haren's limited repertoire of cutters hovering around 87 mph. Haren, despite the three errors, said his start was rescued in the fifth inning. The Twins had cut the Dodgers' lead to 5-4 and had two on with no out when shortstop Hanley Ramirez snagged Trevor Plouffe's line drive up the middle and flipped the ball from his glove to second baseman Dee Gordon covering the bag.
It took a Mattingly challenge that overturned the original safe call at the bag, and the resulting double play helped to cut off the rally.
"It was huge," Haren said of the play. "I didn't make the greatest pitch, but it worked out for me. I settled down after that."
Haren also overcame some first-inning slapstick, as the Dodgers' defense committed a pair of throwing errors on the same play, helping the Twins take a 2-0 lead.
A one-out single by Joe Mauer and a walk to Plouffe brought up Jason Kubel, who flared a broken-bat single to left field that scored Mauer.
Crawford lobbed the ball in to third base, even though nobody was there, as third baseman Uribe was the cutoff man and shortstop Ramirez wasn't at the bag.
"He threw to a place he shouldn't be throwing it," Mattingly said.
Catcher Miguel Olivo chased down the wild throw, and from his knees, he fired to third trying to get Plouffe advancing. But with Ramirez now at the bag, the throw sailed past and Plouffe scored.
"Miggy backed up, then he had no business throwing it," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers scored three runs in the second off Pelfrey -- two on Puig's bat-flip double -- and added two in the third on Kemp's RBI double and Uribe's RBI single.
"It was the same thing that had been going for the last month -- I was terrible," said Pelfrey. "It was the same stuff of not locating your fastball, leaving pitches over the middle and walking guys. I'm sure the coaching staff and [manager Ron Gardenhire] are frustrated, but I'm more frustrated than anybody."
Minnesota closed the gap in the bottom of the fifth on a leadoff walk to Aaron Hicks, a double by the torrid Eduardo Escobar and a two-run single by Dozier to make it 5-4. The Dodgers escaped further damage thanks to Mattingly's successful challenge.
The Dodgers pulled away for good in a three-run seventh on singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, an RBI double by Uribe and RBI singles by Olivo and Crawford.
The Twins successfully challenged a call in the eighth. With one out and Kubel on first base, Josmil Pinto bounced to Ramirez, who threw to Gordon, who bobbled and dropped the ball. Umpire Tim Welke originally called Kubel out, but the call was overturned and Gordon was given an error.
"For me, Dee's is on the mental side," Mattingly said. "That play, late in the game, you have to make sure you get the first out."
Perez relieved Howell, wild pitched the runners to second and third, but escaped by striking out Sam Fuld.