Through six innings, it sure looked like the Boston native and former Red Sox pitcher and the outfield star from Cuba had carried the Dodgers to victory against the Red Sox in Game 4 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the two returned home quietly Saturday night with their team trailing three games to one after a 9-6 loss put them on the verge of elimination.
"It was just a really difficult loss," Hill said. "We are still not out, and we have another game tomorrow here. We do have an uphill battle, but we have shown we are a team with a lot of fight and I like our chances, I really do, to win three games in a row."
The pair almost did enough to win one Saturday.
Puig, the energetic -- and sometimes puzzling -- outfielder, deposited a pitch from Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez into the left-field stands to turn a 1-0 lead into a four-run advantage with a three-run home run in the sixth.
Puig celebrated the only way he knows how. He raised his hands and flipped the bat in the air once the ball left his bat. Puig then proceeded to flex his biceps, blow kisses into the stands and eventually return to the top step of Los Angeles' dugout for a curtain call.
Manny Machado, who was standing at third base, knew it was gone, too, and he also raised his hands. Cody Bellinger, who was at first, also celebrated long before the ball touched down.
"At that point, we were still in the game. Puig gave us a nice little cushion, but we were not able to come in and close it out," Machado said after the game in the middle of the Dodgers' locker room. "That's part of the game. Sometimes you hit and sometimes you give up runs. That's why there are 25 guys that grind it all out and leave it all on the field."
It was a typical home run celebration for Puig, Los Angeles scored its first run of the inning in an unusual fashion.
David Freese was hit by a pitch to lead off the eventful sixth and was replaced on the bases by pinch-runner Enrique Hernandez. Justin Turner hit a one-out double and Rodriguez intentionally walked Machado to load the bases.
That's when Bellinger followed with a ground ball to first baseman Steve Pearce, who fired home to force Hernandez out at home. The Red Sox tried to turn two, but Turner scored on the errant throw back to first base by catcher Christian Vazquez for the Dodgers' first run, before Puig smashed his three-run shot.
The four-run cushion seemed to be enough. It wasn't, not even with Hill on top of his game.
But the left-hander deserved a better fate. Hill threw a one-hitter for 6 1/3 innings before the bullpen collapsed behind him. In all, the lefty struck out seven, walked three, hit a batter and issued a leadoff walk to Xander Bogaerts in the seventh, then struck out Eduardo Nunez before being relieved by Scott Alexander.
"I had a conversation with Rich, and we talked about it [before the seventh inning]," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He said, 'Keep an eye on me. I'm going to give it everything I have. Let's go hitter to hitter and just keep an eye on me.' So right there, I know Rich did everything he could, competed, left everything out there."
It was Ryan Madson who gave up the three-run home run to Mitch Moreland to cut Los Angeles' lead to 4-3. Kenley Jansen gave up a game-tying homer to Pearce in the eighth to saddle Hill with a no-decision. Boston tacked on five more runs in the ninth.
Hill was understandably subdued in the home clubhouse after the game. He spoke softly and stared ahead as he answered every question about what happened and what could have been. Puig sat in front of Machado's locker a couple of feet away with his eyes focused on his phone. The outfielder respectfully refused to answer questions despite a playful banter with the reporters standing in front of him.
"No, I'm not talking," Puig said in English. Then he repeated the phrase in Spanish.
A few minutes later, Machado wrapped up the interviews and the two walked out of the stadium together in silence. There was nothing more to say.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix.