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Puig, Dodgers plow to 2-0 series lead

The Associated Press

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenta Maeda is greeted in the dugout after finishing the fifth inning during Saturday’s playoff game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Los Angeles. Maeda picked up the win after retiring all three batters he faced, two by strikeout.

The Associated PressLOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig’s bloop single didn’t even drive in a run. He still flipped his bat, sprinted to first and triumphantly pointed back at his dugout, where the cheering Los Angeles Dodgers pointed right back while the crowd chanted his name.

Some of baseball’s norms just don’t apply to the exuberant Puig. Or to the Dodgers, who are getting huge offensive contributions from practically every spot in their lineup.

The Cuban slugger is just one purring component of a machine that has the Dodgers on the brink of an even bigger celebration.

Puig had three hits and drove in two runs, Austin Barnes added a key two-run double and the Dodgers used another relentless hitting performance to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-5 on Saturday night for a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series.

Logan Forsythe had three hits and Kenley Jansen earned a flawless five-out save for the 104-win Dodgers, who have made their mediocre pitching irrelevant by pounding out 17 runs and 24 hits in the first two games against their NL West rival.

The Dodgers have the majors’ biggest payroll, but their offense is coming from players of all salaries and pedigrees. And even when the heart of the Dodgers’ order produced little in Game 2, their 6-7-8 hitters — Forsythe, Barnes and Puig — were spectacular.

“We’ve got a lot of good players, and a lot of depth,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “There are so many guys in our lineup that can hurt you. I don’t know how many times they were on base, but [the batters in the] 6, 7, 8 spots, those guys were on base all night, being productive, driving runs in.”

The trio reached base a combined nine times, and Los Angeles turned an early 2-0 deficit into a 7-2 advantage with three rallies, capped by a four-run surge in the fifth.

Barnes, usually the Dodgers’ backup catcher, reached base three times and got the night’s biggest hit with that fifth-inning double. As for Puig, he has five hits, four RBIs and an uncountable number of tongue-wags, bat-licks and obscure celebratory gestures in just two games.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Brandon Drury added a pinch-hit, three-run shot in the seventh, but the Diamondbacks are on the brink of elimination after Robbie Ray and reliever Jimmie Sherfy couldn’t contain the Dodgers’ lineup.

Kenta Maeda got the victory by getting three outs of middle relief.

The Japanese right-hander didn’t make the Division Series rotation, but Roberts plans to use the 13-game winner as a specialist against right-handed batters.

Game 3 of the best-of-five matchup is Monday at Chase Field. Arizona ace Zack Greinke will attempt to save the season when he faces his former teammates with the Dodgers, who counter with late-season acquisition Yu Darvish.

Nationals knot series with Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Things were looking bleak for the Washington Nationals and their dormant offense until Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman took over.

Harper hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning and Zimmerman tacked on a three-run shot moments later to lift the Washington Nationals to a 6-3 comeback victory over the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Saturday, evening their NL Division Series at a game apiece.

The Nationals were in serious danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series, entering the eighth trailing 3-1 after dropping Game 1 by a 3-0 score. But after accumulating four hits through the first 16 innings of the postseason, NL East champion Washington broke out with five runs and four hits, led by 2015 NL MVP Harper and longtime face of the franchise Zimmerman.

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