Pair of long homers power Ryu, Dodgers
Puig, Kemp go deep as rookie outduels Giants' Cain
By Ken Gurnick / 9/25/2013 2:49 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Dodgers opened the final week of the regular season with the kind of game they can expect the first week of the postseason.
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings and rode home runs from outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp as the Dodgers edged the Giants, 2-1.
The game also marked the return to AT&T Park of former Giants closer Brian Wilson, now the Dodgers' setup man. Wilson received a mixed reaction from Giants fans, then pitched a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts before Kenley Jansen finished up for his 28th save.
Although only Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have been officially announced as starters for Games 1 and 2 of the NL Division Series, manager Don Mattingly made it clear there is no hesitation about including Ryu in a postseason rotation.
"I've always been comfortable with Hyun-Jin. There's no question mark," said Mattingly, who said he's not ready to confirm any other starters just yet. "Most every outing has been pretty much quality. He bends, but doesn't break. You couldn't ask anything more.
"The biggest thing in the second half was getting him plenty of rest. We've spread him out pretty good."
Ryu, 1-4 in his previous five starts, was pitching on seven days' rest since losing a two-hitter in Arizona. He is 14-7 with a 2.97 ERA, the 14 wins matching Kaz Ishii for second-most by a Los Angeles Dodgers rookie behind Rick Sutcliffe's 17 in 1979. He allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one.
"I feel really good, no injuries right now," said Ryu, who shook off back tightness two weeks ago. "It's always good to get a few days extra rest. I'm in a real good position right now."
Kemp's home run broke a 1-1 tie. He hit it leading off the bottom of the sixth, a majestic 443-foot homer to center field. It was his first homer since July 21, the day he came off the disabled list from shoulder A/C joint inflammation and the same day he turned an ankle to go back on the disabled list.
"When I'm going good, I hit to left-center, center field and right-center, and today I hit to left-center and right-center, so it was a pretty good day," said Kemp.
Although Kemp went 4-for-4 on Sept. 17 in his first start off the disabled list, he was 2-for-15 since without an extra-base hit. This was his sixth home run of an injury-marred season.
"He's been struggling with his swing," said Mattingly. "Tonight's the best I've seen him. He's in and out still. I hope this helps him gain his confidence, get more comfortable with his timing and his legs. That's what we need."
With Andre Ethier's postseason availability and health in question, Mattingly needs a healthy Kemp for October.
"He's Matt Kemp. A couple years ago, a lot of people looked at him as the best player in the game, or one of them," he said. "Last year, until he got hurt, you saw the same thing. Is he back to that? I don't know about that. But get him back to playing every day and that would be nice for us."
In addition to the home runs by Puig and Kemp, Carl Crawford doubled, singled twice and stole a base, giving the Dodgers an extra-base hit from each of the three outfielders.
Giants starter Matt Cain is another pitcher who must have lost the scouting report on Puig. Cain threw him a hittable first-pitch slider with one out in the fifth and Puig put it 436 feet away into the bleachers in right-center, his 19th homer. Coming into the game, Puig was hitting .552 on first pitches, with eight homers in only 67 at-bats.
In Puig's previous at-bat, Cain brushed Puig back with an inside fastball, then hit him on the shoulder with another one.
"The pitcher is doing his job," said Puig, who showed no anger after being hit for the 11th time, which leads the team even though he's played 99 of the 157 games. "It's part of the game."
The lead didn't last long, as former Dodger Tony Abreu lined an 0-1 fastball over the left-center-field fence with one out in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game.
By his managing, Mattingly virtually confirmed that Wilson has supplanted Ronald Belisario as the primary eighth-inning setup man. Mattingly said sentiment had nothing to do with using Wilson in his first game back at AT&T Park.
"I was trying to get three outs," said Mattingly. "That's kind of the spot for him. No dramatics there -- just three outs."
Fine with Wilson, who kept the victory lap to a minimum after having been non-tendered by the Giants last winter as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
"I wasn't expecting anything," he said. "You're not going to get a rise out of me. It's all good. Pitched the eighth, did my job. What I did here. If anything, I showed them exactly who I've been. You only need two people to believe in yourself -- God and myself. I told everybody I'd be ready. It's not a surprise; at least, not to me."
Said Cain: "Definitely a little different watching him coming in from over there. It's part of the game, guys get moved around and whatever. But we're happy that he's healthy because he's meant a lot to us and what we've done here in the past years."