Puig's record day helps Dodgers cruise by Phils
Phenom's debut month second only to DiMaggio after a 4-for-5
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are playing their best baseball as the calendar turns to July, thanks to Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez.
Puig made L.A.-era rookie history with four more hits, Hanley Ramirez continued his barrage at the plate and Stephen Fife earned his third victory as the Dodgers beat the Phillies, 6-1, on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium to win their second straight series and complete a 6-1 homestand.
The Dodgers are 8-1 in their past nine games and have climbed within four games of the D-backs in the National League West. A week ago, the Dodgers were 9 1/2 games off the pace in the division. They have an opportunity to gain even more ground before the All-Star break, as they close the first half with 13 straight games against division opponents.
"It changes quick, that's for sure," said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who had three hits and threw out two runners attempting to steal. "But you've got to stay on top of it. Things can go right back in the opposite direction. We've got a big 13-game sprint to the All-Star break. We haven't played well in our division, so we need to pick it up."
Puig tripled, doubled and had two singles to go with two stolen bases and two runs scored. The Cuban sensation finished June with 44 hits, the most for a Dodgers rookie in a single month since the club moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and second in history in the first month of a career only to Joe DiMaggio's debut with the Yankees in May 1936.
"I'm really excited to be put on that list," Puig said through an interpreter. "But I'm more excited that the team is winning."
The Dodgers are 15-11 when Puig starts. The club was 23-32 before his debut on June 3.
Puig had a chance for the cycle when he stepped to the plate in the eighth against Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus. But Puig struck out after taking a few healthy cuts. He said he hit for the cycle multiple times during his career in Cuba and wasn't swinging for the fences in that final at-bat.
"It looked like he was going for it," said Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. "I would have been going for it in that situation. He went down swinging, that's the only way to go. He tried. You don't need another single, just try to hit a home run."
Puig collected seven hits, two RBIs and scored five runs during the four-game series with the Phillies.
"I've seen enough of him," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He's a good player. He's strong and loves to play. He's got a lot of talent. Right now, I look up there and see  at-bats ad 44 hits. That's a pretty good start for a rookie."
Ramirez extended his hit streak to 12 games with an RBI single in the fourth to score Puig. Ramirez is hitting .477 with five homers, three doubles, 15 RBIs and nine runs scored during his streak. The Dodgers are 8-4 in those games.
"It's not done yet," Ramirez said. "We've got a long way to go. But we're playing good baseball right now."
Kemp and Jerry Hairston Jr. also contributed RBI singles in the fourth, as the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead.
That was more than enough support for Fife, who fired seven scoreless innings for his best outing of the year. The rookie struck out five against one walk and allowed four hits. Since joining the rotation in early June, Fife is 3-2 and hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his six starts.
"Things are really starting to come together," said Fife, who won consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
Jose Dominguez, promoted from Triple-A on Saturday, made his Major League debut in the eighth. The hard-throwing right-hander tossed a 1-2-3 inning and struck out the first batter he faced, Delmon Young.
"Everybody waits for this moment and it feels great, said Dominguez, whose fastball was clocked at 101 mph. "I've been working hard to get here."
Adrian Gonzalez drove in his first run in over a week when he plated Puig with a single in the fifth. Gonzalez leads the Dodgers with 48 RBIs.
Ellis doubled in an insurance run in the eighth, and Scott Van Slyke brought him home with a pinch-hit single to cap the scoring for the Dodgers.
With half of the season complete, the Dodgers are starting to resemble the team they expected to be coming out of Spring Training.
"We're getting better," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "We're finally healthy. We're playing pretty well right now and playing with some confidence."
Of course, there are still another 81 games on the schedule.
"We just want to keep this fire and keep rolling," Kemp said.