The young, the fresh, the healthy and dynamic Dodgers were on full display on Sunday as the team closed out its best homestand and best week of the season. The Dodgers hit, ran and pitched their way past the Phillies with a 6-1 triumph at Dodger Stadium for their second straight win and eighth victory in their last nine games.
The Dodgers, who found themselves 9½ games out of first place on June 21, are now four games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West.
Yasiel Puig ended the greatest first month ever with a career-high four hits, missing the cycle by a measly home run. Puig ended his sublime June hitting .436/.467/.713, and set a new Dodgers rookie record for hits in a month with 44, narrowly beating Steve Sax and his hot August 1982. Puig's 44 hits were the second most hits in MLB history by someone in their first month.
Behind only Joe DiMaggio, who had 48 hits in May 1936.
Puig also stole two bases, and scored on a single by Hanley Ramirez to open the scoring in a three-run fourth inning. Ramirez went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, during which time he is hitting a robust .477 (21-for-44). Ramirez also stole second, then was delivered by an RBI single from Matt Kemp batting sixth for the first time since August 2010.
Kemp was 2-for-4 and scored two runs, making his way back to making the Dodgers lineup even more formidable and deep, more like the club thought they would have in April. A.J. Ellis contributed too with three hits, including an RBI double, and threw out both Phillies who tried to steal a base on him.
That offense backed Stephen Fife, who continued to pitch like he belongs in a major league rotation. Fife pitched a career best seven innings on Sunday and didn't allow a run. He gave up just four hits and a walk and struck out five for his third win.
Fife has four quality starts in his last five outings and in six starts since returning from the disabled list he has a 2.21 ERA, with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks.
What followed Fife was the 22-year-old fireballer Jose Dominguez, who retired the side in order in his major league debut. He struck out his first batter, Delmon Young, and hit 101 mph on the gun twice during the inning.
The bottom line is that the Dodgers are an exciting team to watch right now, and Sunday provided examples of just about every reason why.
What a difference nine days makes.
The Dodgers take Monday off but open a suddenly key nine-game road trip against three National League West foes. The Dodgers open a three-game series in Coors Field on Tuesday night, with Clayton Kershaw facing Roy Oswalt for the Rockies.
Home runs: none
WP - Stephen Fife (3-2): 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
LP - Kyle Kendrick (7-5): 6 IP, 10 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts