Yasiel Puig hitting two home runs and driving in five runs has a way of wiping away and overcoming any problems. Puig's big night helped overcome a short start by Ted Lilly, who may or may not be feeling a recurrence of neck problems.
Lilly allowed five runs in four innings on Tuesday, and pitched to just one batter in the fifth inning. He allowed home runs in the first and second innings that put the Padres ahead 3-0.
"A couple of his fastballs were running more than they normally do. He just didn't quite seem the same out there," said catcher Tim Federowicz. "He still located his curve ball well and threw his change up and used a good mix. He got hurt on a couple of balls that ran back over the middle of the plate."
Lilly has averaged just 4.6 innings per start this season, a problem for an already depleted staff that has Chris Capuano on the disabled list, Josh Beckett out more than a month, and next-in-line Matt Magill coming off a historically bad start in which he allowed four home runs and nine walks.
"I think it was one of those days where it didn't seem like he was getting through the ball today. His neck seemed like there was something going on today," said manager Don Mattingly. "We never really know with Ted, one start to the next. We'll watch him."
But Lilly said his neck felt healthy enough to pitch, and that he'd be ready to pitch again on Sunday, when his next turn comes up.
"I felt good enough to pitch better than that," Lilly said. "I've got to find a way to pitch better, and not put so much work on the bullpen."
Communication has been a problem of sorts this season for Lilly and the Dodgers, and it has been a two-way street. Lilly pitched against the Rockies on Apr. 29 with tightness in his neck and back without telling the trainers and coaches. Not only was he drubbed for eight hits and five runs in three innings, but he spent four weeks on the disabled list with a strained right rib cage.
Then in his first start back Lilly was cruising with one run and two hits allowed into the sixth inning on May 25 and had retired 14 straight batters at one point. But after a walk in the sixth inning and at just 79 pitches Lilly was pulled, not knowing he was on a pitch count.
If Lilly is feeling anything in his neck, or anywhere, he should let the trainers and coaches now. The Dodgers absolutely need him in the rotation, and a healthy version to boot.