LOS ANGELES -- After being rudely interrupted by that pesky demotion to the Minor Leagues, Yasiel Puig resumed his role as Dodgers superstar on Sunday when he slugged a three-run homer and scored three runs in a 7-4 win over the Padres.
Two days after being recalled from Triple-A, Puig lined a third-inning home run into the Dodgers' bullpen. He gently dropped his bat as he jogged toward first base, was warmly greeted at home plate by Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez, enthusiastically welcomed back to the dugout and accorded a standing ovation by the Dodger Stadium crowd.
Equally impressive, he was patient enough to walk twice, scoring both times. He made a throw from right field to the correct base, low enough to be cut off. He pleased his manager, which has not been a typical Puig characteristic.
"Yasiel, the homer was great. It was a big hit for us. But the at-bat quality he had throughout the day, hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, backing up, there's a lot of things Yasiel did today to help us win a baseball game," Roberts said.
"Yasiel is doing everything we've asked and doing everything that everyone in that clubhouse is doing. More importantly, he and his teammates are talking about doing the right things. When there's accountability with your teammates, it makes everyone better. Not only Yasiel, but his teammates. Today was a well played Major League game by a right fielder and he helped us win."
Management sent Puig down to work on his swing, as well as his behavior. With fingers crossed, the club recalled him, hoping he can make a difference on the field and show a difference in his behavior.
"I'm very happy with the opportunity my teammates have given me, very thankful for their support and it motivates me to do better on the field," he said. "When you do your job, everything works out better. When you prepare, when you're in the dugout. Those are the things I didn't do before and now I'm doing them."
With Clayton Kershaw sidelined, the Dodgers have taken over first place and extended their lead to three games. But they've lacked the sizzle that Puig -- even the new, improved, subdued version -- can't help but provide.
"The fans have been asking for my return, and this is a way for me to pay them back for their support and I will continue to work hard and do my job," said Puig, who hadn't hit a home run for the Dodgers since July 4.
From a purely baseball perspective, Puig's callup was as much to address the Dodgers' struggles against left-handed starting pitching as anything. Coming into the game, the Dodgers were 16-19 against lefties.
"We've had difficulties with lefties and this month is important because of the playoff push," said Puig.