Padres hit three homers, but rookie Puig hits back
Despite Denorfia, Blanks, Quentin going yard, LA makes it two straight
LOS ANGELES -- The angst directed toward Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin was palpable on Tuesday, a chorus of boos cascading down from the rafters of venerable Dodger Stadium.
But, to be clear, the loudest and most thunderous response was reserved for someone else entirely, a rookie who has staged an epic unveiling in his first two Major League games.
Right fielder Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old phenom, had two home runs and drove in five runs to lead the Dodgers to a 9-7 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 37,544 who howled with approval each time he swung the bat.
"The kid has some raw power and there's some strength to his swing," said Padres manager Bud Black.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Puig is the first Dodger to knock in five or more runs within the first two games of his career since Spider Jorgenson knocked in six in his second game for Brooklyn on April 17, 1947.
Puig, who just last week was terrorizing pitching in the Double-A Southern League, hit a three-run home run to left field in the fifth inning and then added a two-run home run one inning later, this time a blast to right field as the Dodgers (25-32) roared back from two early deficits.
"Were they mistake pitches? Yes," said Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. "But good hitters hit mistakes. He's a strong kid. He did what he was supposed to do with those pitches."
Lost in the euphoria surrounding Puig was Quentin's first game against the Dodgers since April 11, when he was plunked by a pitch by Los Angeles pitcher Zack Greinke, setting off a benches-clearing incident that resulted in a broken collarbone for Greinke and an eight-game suspension for Quentin.
Many expected some retaliation against Quentin, but there was nary a brush back in any of his five plate appearances in the game.
"This situation will pass," said Black, who was ejected in the eighth inning by umpire Tim Timmons after arguing a close call at first base.
Quentin had three hits, including a solo home run in the seventh inning. But his effort, his performance was mostly forgotten as the Dodgers overcame early deficits of 3-0 and 5-2, victimizing pitcher Clayton Richard at nearly every turn.
Despite the early lead, Richard struggled, allowing six earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Richard struggled again to the keep the ball down, as he allowed a two-run home run to Tim Federowicz and the first of two home runs to Puig.
"Not bad, huh? He's pretty good," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "Those were two impressive home runs there. We see a little bit of just everything this guy can do. Power both ways. He's fun to watch.
"When you do the things he's doing, you create excitement."
Leading 5-2, Richard opened the fifth inning by allowing a one-out single to Federowicz and a walk to pinch-hitter Luis Cruz. That set the stage for the first of Puig's home runs.
"I was more disappointed in falling behind in the fifth inning with a couple of walks," Richard said. "In the fifth, it kind of got away from us."
Richard (1-6) has allowed 12 home runs in 38 2/3 innings this season. His ERA currently stands at 8.38.
"Tonight it was about missing spots," Black said of Richard. "I think the velocity is fine but the location is not good with the fastball. I think we need to mix in some [more] off-speed pitches."
For as poorly as Richard pitched, the Padres (26-32) had more than just a fair shot of coming out on top against Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly, who allowed a home run to the first batter he faced -- Chris Denorfia.
Lilly allowed four earned runs on six hits in four-plus innings before he was chased. Before he left, Lilly allowed a two-run home run to Kyle Blanks in the second inning. He even allowed a run-scoring single to Richard in the fourth inning.
Los Angeles reliever J.P. Howell (2-0) got the victory and Brandon League earned his 13th save of the season. Tyson Ross, who relieved Richard, took the loss for the Padres. He's now 0-2.
The Padres had 13 hits in the game and threatened nearly every inning. They had the bases loaded in the sixth inning with one run in but Chase Headley -- who was 0-for-5, dropping his average to .229 -- grounded into a double play to end the inning.
"It's a combination of things," Headley said. "But first and foremost, I've got to swing at better pitches."