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Yasiel Puig home run lifts Dodgers over Pirates in extras

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LA records 40th comeback win of 2017

Los Angeles Dodgers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Yasiel Puig homered in the 12th inning to give the Dodgers a 6-5 win over the Pirates in a back-and-forth battle in the opener of a four-game series at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Puig’s second game-winning hit in the last five games was a solo shot off reliever Dovydas Neverauskas to lead off the 12th. It was the second hit of the night for Puig, who also doubled in a five-run seventh inning.

Puig is enjoying a stellar season in right field for the Dodgers as well, rated as 11 runs above average by Defensive Runs Saved, and +8 by Total Zone Rating. His latest highlight play came in the sixth inning on Monday, with this catch against the right field wall to rob Andrew McCutchen of extra bases.

The Dodgers threatened throughout the extra frames.

They loaded the bases in the 10th inning thanks to three walks by Joaquin Benoit, but Chris Taylor flew out to end the frame. The Dodgers loaded the bases in four different innings on Monday, but only scored in one of them.

Benoit returned for a second inning of relief and walked another batter -- Curtis Granderson — then threw a wild pitch to move him into scoring position with two outs. But Benoit recovered to strike out Yasmani Grandal to escape the frame. Two innings marked the longest outing of the season for the 40-year-old Benoit, who was used for more than three outs for just the third time all season.

With closer Kenley Jansen used in a tie game in the 10th inning against the heart of the Pittsburgh batting order, the bottom of the 12th was left for Ross Stripling.

Stripling earned a three-inning save on May 27 against the Cubs, closing out a 5-0 win. On Monday, he allowed a single to McCutchen and intentionally walked Josh Bell, but retired the side for his first traditional save, closing out the Dodgers’ 40th comeback victory of the season.

Naturally, Puig caught the final out of the game.

The Dodgers improved to 8-2 in extra-innings, including seven straight victories. At four hours, 35 minutes, Monday was the longest game of the season for the Dodgers by time.

Grand fashion

For a second straight day the Dodgers were getting stymied by an ace, but on Monday they found a way to break through against Gerrit Cole.

Down 3-0 after six innings, the Dodgers rallied against Cole in the seventh, with singles by Chase Utley and Corey Seager and walk by Logan Forsythe producing one run, followed by a Justin Turner single to load the bases for a third time in the game.

The Dodgers also loaded the bases in the second and the sixth inning against Cole, but had nothing to show for it. Adrian Gonzalez, who singled earlier in the game, hit a 100-mph fly ball to the deepest part of the park in center field with the bases loaded in the sixth, but it fell a few feet shy of what would have been both a go-ahead grand slam and Gonzalez’s 2,000th career hit.

Granderson, who also homered to break up Justin Verlander’s no-hitter in the seventh inning on Sunday for the Dodgers’ only run, did not miss his chance against Cole, homering to right field for the Dodgers’ MLB-best eighth grand slam of the season, giving them a 5-3 advantage.

Granderson has eight home runs in eight August games. That total includes a grand slam in his last at-bat with the Mets.

Rough night for Baez

Tony Watson hit a Adam Frazier to open the seventh, then Pedro Baez had one of his worst outings of the season.

Working at a glacier’s pace, Baez allowed a run-scoring double to Josh Harrison, who homered and singled earlier in the contest. That pulled the Pirates to within a run, then Baez walked three of his next four hitters. A ground ball force out by Josh Bell -- hit too slowly to turn an inning-ending double play — tied the game at 5-5, which was the score when Baez exited with game with two outs and the bases loaded.

Baez threw 28 pitches, including just 13 for strikes, and recorded only one out. His 9.59-percent walk rate this season is a career worst. His 21.9-percent strikeout rate is his worst since his rookie season, and down from his 25.7-percent career mark.

Break for Wood?

Monday particulars

Home runs: Curtis Granderson (21), Yasiel Puig (22); Jose Osuna (7), Sean Rodriguez (5), Josh Harrison (15)

WP - Luis Avilan (2-1): 1 IP, 1 hit

LP - Dovydas Neverauskas (1-1): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run

Sv - Ross Stripling (2): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk