Yasiel Puig blasts 3 HRs as Dodgers cruise 17-4 over Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS – Yasiel Puig hit three home runs and combined with Cody Bellinger to drive in 13 runs as the Dodgers pounded the St. Louis Cardinals 17-4 on Saturday afternoon.

Puig hit two home runs in Friday’s win. The Dodgers hit five Saturday – Puig’s three and one each from Manny Machado and Bellinger.

The Dodgers have now won series against fellow playoff contenders Arizona, Colorado and St. Louis over the past 2 ½ weeks. Even with slips against the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds in between, the Dodgers have won 10 of their past 15 games.

The surge has moved them into a tie for first place in the National League West – pending the outcome of the Rockies game Saturday night – and, potentially, a game up on the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.

The Dodgers’ offense has come to life on this 10-game road trip. Starting with Sunday’s win in Colorado, they have scored 53 runs in seven games, including 29 in taking the first three games in St. Louis.

Puig has been a big part of that. He is 11 for 23 with six home runs – five in a nine-at-bat burst this weekend – 11 RBI and eight runs scored on the trip.

“Focus,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said when asked before the game the reason for Puig’s awakening.

“Yasiel’s a very talented player. I think the challenge for him is to understand the importance of every game, every pitch. Where we are right now in September, essentially playoff games, his focus is heightened. When he does that, he’s as good as any player out there.”

Puig’s first homer Saturday came off Cardinals starter John Gant in the fourth inning. An inning later, Gant had been chased from the game and Puig came up with one out and two on, Bellinger having already driven in two runs with a single off lefty reliever Tyler Webb.

Puig’s difficulty with left-handed pitching the past two years has led Roberts to platoon him. But Cardinals manager Mike Shildt opted to pull Webb – who gave up Puig’s second home run Friday – and bring in right-hander Mike Mayers.

Puig promptly hit a bullet into the left-field stands for a three-run home run. The exit velocity of 114.3 mph was the highest on a Dodgers home run since Statcast began tracking exit velocity in 2015.

His third homer was another three-run shot, this one off Luke Weaver in the eighth inning.

Justin Turner was on base five times, briefly giving the Dodgers a scare when he was hit on the left hand with a pitch. He stayed in the game and went 3 for 3 with two walks.

Like an old friend from high school, Dodgers starter Rich Hill briefly lost touch with the strike zone. In a 13-pitch span of the fourth inning, he threw 11 balls, loading the bases with three consecutive walks. He went ahead 0-and-2 on the next batter, Patrick Wisdom, before hanging a curveball that Wisdom hit for a grand slam.

That was the Cardinals’ only scoring against Hill and four relievers, including left-hander Julio Urias, who retired the side in order in the ninth inning in his first major-league action since May 20, 2017. Urias underwent major shoulder surgery in June 2017.

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