Posted July 02, 2013 on AP on Fox
The surging Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the race thanks largely to Yasiel Puig. The Colorado Rockies' Michael Cuddyer has turned heads of late, too. Puig and the visiting Dodgers look to keep rolling while Cuddyer tries to extend the longest hitting streak in franchise history Tuesday night. Los Angeles (38-43) enters this three-game set seeking a ninth win in 10 games after beating Philadelphia 6-1 on Sunday. Puig led the way again, going 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, two runs and two stolen bases. The 22-year-old Cuban defector has gone a major league-best 44 for 101 (.436) with seven homers, 16 RBIs and 19 runs in 26 games since getting called up June 3. "Puig's definitely brought an energy and a spark to us, and his skill level, I think, is a little more than anybody anticipated it would be," Sunday's winning pitcher Stephen Fife said. "It's been a pretty historic start." Puig's hit total in June ranks second all-time in a player's first full calendar month behind only New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio's 48 in May 1936. Puig also broke Steve Sax's team record for hits in any month, set in August 1983. "I'm really excited to be put on that list," Puig told MLB's official website through an interpreter. "But I'm more excited that the team is winning." After a disappointing first 2 1/2 months, the Dodgers now find themselves well within striking distance of NL West-leading Arizona. "We've kind of got ourselves back to respectability here," manager Don Mattingly said. "We can see the front of the pack. Now we have to go take care of business and continue to win at a high rate." Slowing down Cuddyer could prove crucial if the Dodgers hope to see their momentum carry over. The veteran outfielder singled and scored in the eighth inning in Sunday's 5-2 loss to San Francisco, extending his hitting streak to 27 games. Cuddyer, who's batting .372 with six homers and 19 RBIs during that run, has also reached base safely in a franchise-record 46 straight games. "It's been fun watching him do this," manager Walt Weiss said. "It's nice to see him get some recognition. He's a great player." Cuddyer is 2 for 6 against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (6-5, 2.08 ERA), who's looking to build on his first win in over a month. The left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in eight-plus innings in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the Giants. "I had better fastball command tonight than I had in the past," he said. "There's some little things to work on here and there. But overall, it was better tonight for sure." Kershaw is 6-1 with a 2.96 ERA in his last 15 starts in the series, but he's 0-1 with a 5.01 ERA in his last five at Coors Field. The Rockies (41-42) counter with Roy Oswalt, who's gone 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA since debuting June 20. He yielded five runs and nine hits in six innings Wednesday in a 5-3 loss at Boston. Weiss, though, likes what he's seen from the 35-year-old right-hander. "It's very evident that there's still a lot left with him," Weiss said. "In the two outings that he's had for us, still a lot of life in the arm, the ability to make pitches. It's all there." Oswalt is 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last seven starts against the Dodgers, but he hasn't faced them since 2011. While Matt Kemp is 1 for 11 with four strikeouts in their matchups, Hanley Ramirez is 11 for 30 with three homers and three doubles. Ramirez is batting .477 with five homers and 15 RBIs over a 13-game stretch.
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