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Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Dodgers win again, though Puig has injury scare

By Arash Markazi


For once this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers' injury prayers were answered.

It hasn't happened often this season for a Dodgers team that has seemingly placed every player on its roster on the disabled list at one point or another, but for once a player was removed from the game after getting hurt and it looks as if it won't cost him a 15-day trip to the DL.

Yasiel Puig left Wednesday night's game against the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning after colliding with the right-field wall at Coors Field in the fifth inning. Puig bruised his left hip as he hit the fence after catching a line drive by Nolan Arenado.

Precautionary X-rays were negative on Puig, the Dodgers announced, and he's listed as day-to-day.

Despite being entrenched in a one-run game in the eighth inning when the results were revealed, there was a collective sigh of relief from everyone in the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field.

The Dodgers went on to beat the Rockies 10-8 on Wednesday to claim their fourth straight win and 10th victory in their past 11 games. The Dodgers passed the San Diego Padres in the NL West standings, are tied for second with the Rockies and are within just two games of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was an offensive showcase for the Dodgers who had a season-high 17 hits, 10 runs and four home runs. It was also the first game since 2006 in which the Dodgers had 10 extra-base hits. Things were going so well that Juan Uribe had a tying two-run shot in the fourth inning and Matt Kemp hit his first home run since May 20 to put the game away in the ninth inning.

This is easily the best stretch the Dodgers have played all season. They could move into sole possession of second place with a win Thursday, and there is a chance they could take the division lead by the end of the week, which seemed impossible just 10 days ago when the Dodgers were 9½ games out of first place and 12 games under .500.

There have been many factors that have played a part in the Dodgers' season-altering winning streak, but perhaps one of the biggest is the Dodgers are finally healthy again and, as Puig's situation highlighted, getting lucky with the injuries players do sustain.

After missing the likes of Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Zack Greinke, A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., Chris Capuano and Stephen Fife for various stretches this season, the Dodgers have them all back and could be getting Carl Crawford and Ted Lilly back soon.

They are beginning to look and play like the contenders many thought they were going to be at the beginning of the season, before they were riddled with injuries and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was on a hot seat so scorching he was seemingly one loss away from losing his job. Now he could be orchestrating a dramatic comeback before the All-Star break, and it's not surprising that it has coincided with Mattingly's being able to put together the same lineup on back-to-back nights for the first time in a while.

"We're full strength and we're playing with some confidence," Mattingly said recently. "Now I'm able to put a lineup out there on a daily basis that's pretty consistent and not try to mix and match guys and find out who's healthy that day and trying to squeeze something out of the offense. Guys are playing in their spots and we’re really more settled right now."

Before Puig went down, he once again provided another highlight during a first month in the majors that has been littered with them. Puig, who has a seven-game hitting streak, somehow scored from second on a routine groundout by Adrian Gonzalez to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead.

Ramirez continued his hot streak on Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 14 games and finishing with four hits, including a home run in the ninth inning. Ramirez's homer was calculated at 451 feet, tied for the longest home run by a Dodger this season, matching Puig's 451-foot shot at Coors Field on Tuesday, according to ESPN Stats & Information. During his hitting streak, which began June 19, Ramirez is hitting .500 (27-for-54), with six home runs and five doubles.

The home runs hit on Wednesday by Gonzalez (432) and Uribe (426) also were season-long distances for each, according to ESPN Stats & Information.