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Hot-hitting Puig propels Dodgers over Marlins

LOS ANGELES -- Through the games of April 13, Yasiel Puig was batting .237.

That night, "Los Angeles" magazine's website posted a story detailing for the first time Puig's harrowing escape from Cuba, including shocking details of threats against him by human traffickers.

Whether inspired or relieved, Puig's pretty much been on fire ever since. On Monday night he slugged a three-run homer, drove in four runs and walked twice in the Dodgers' 6-5 comeback win over the Marlins. He now has seven home runs (three in the past four games) and a career-high 12-game hitting streak.

Since April 13, Puig is hitting .354, with six homers and 24 RBIs in 24 games. He missed two games after slamming into the fence in Miami two weeks ago, but picked right up where he left off.

"I think more and more of Yasiel as an RBI guy," manager Don Mattingly said in a reversal of his Spring Training opinion. "He's become more patient and getting more strikes. Last year he was more emotional. He's quit chasing, made adjustments."

Mattingly said that Puig has been helped by a game within a game he plays with Adrian Gonzalez to see who gets on base more during a series.

Dan Haren, who also singled in a run and walked, pitched well enough to get the win, improving his record to 5-1 while tossing seven innings without a walk.

"Typical Dan. He stays in the game, keeps making pitches and kind of hangs in there," said Mattingly.

Haren said the tightness in his back he's been experiencing loosened up as the game went on.

"Same as last game -- struggled early, then settled in and got more ground balls," said Haren. "I was walking the tightrope, three runs on six hits after seven outs, but got a big double play [on Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end a two-run third inning] and Puig took over."

Compare Haren's zero walks with the 10 issued by Marlins pitchers, five by losing starter Tom Koehler, who was lifted after only 3 2/3 innings when his pitch count hit 103.

"I thought we all did good tonight," said Mattingly. "[When we opposed Koehler] in Miami, [he] had good stuff and we didn't do a lot with him. Tonight we made him throw strikes, the guys got on base. We were patient with him, and Yasiel's home run was huge. We did a nice job with him as a team."

More good news came from closer Kenley Jansen, who bounced back -- as he predicted he would -- from a 10th-inning loss on Sunday with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 12th save.

The troubling development was another shaky outing from reliever Brian Wilson. Brought on for the eighth inning with the Dodgers holding a three-run lead, Wilson walked leadoff hitter Christian Yelich and served up a two-run pinch-hit homer to former Dodger Reed Johnson on a slider.

Wilson has allowed four home runs, 17 hits and 12 walks in 12 innings this season. It's the most home runs he's allowed in a season since 2008.

"Reed handles that ball in. It's a bad area right there," said Mattingly. "But [Wilson] bounced right back, got the next two hitters."

The Dodgers went into the game having lost four of their previous five, but the Marlins brought in a three-game losing streak and learned before the game that ace Jose Fernandez has an injured elbow.

After allowing Miami a run in the first, Haren did the heavy lifting and got the Dodgers even in the second inning. Matt Kemp, playing in his 1,000th career game, singled. With one out, Kemp stole second and was stopped at third on Justin Turner's single. With two out, Haren worked an 0-2 count into a 2-2 fastball that he stroked into left field to score Kemp.

The top of the Marlins' batting order turned the game around in the top of the third inning with four consecutive hits off Haren. Yelich blasted an opposite-field home run into the wind with one out, Derek Dietrich doubled inside first base and was singled home by Stanton.

Puig shifted the momentum again in the fourth following a one-out walk to Drew Butera and a two-out walk to Dee Gordon by crushing a hanging slider from Koehler 442 feet for a one-run lead.

The Dodgers tacked on two runs in the fifth. Kemp walked, stole second and was singled home by Andre Ethier. With two outs, Butera doubled, and Koehler walked Haren, Gordon and Puig for another run.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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