The Dodgers won because Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven scoreless innings, outdueling Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, and marking the occasion with a sign above his locker paying tribute to victims of the ferry disaster in his South Korea homeland.
"It's an unfortunate situation for the citizens of Korea, with a very heavy heart, and tonight I wanted to pitch well to give a brighter side to think about," Ryu said.
They won because Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single and Tim Federowicz finally broke into the RBI column with a two-out single in the second inning.
They won despite a high-wire act by relievers Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen, Wilson facing his former team in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list, Jansen hanging on for a save two days after letting one get away.
And naturally, all of that had to share the spotlight with Puig, because he can't stay out of it and doesn't seem to want to. Puig dropped a wind-blown fly ball with his customary nonchalant one-handed style, but immediately turned the misplay into an assist by throwing out Brandon Belt at second base. That's Puig.
Then he made a remarkable overhead stabbing catch of Gregor Blanco's line drive that would have tied the game in the second inning and a long running catch of Joaquin Arias' fly in shallow right-center immediately after Ehire Adrianza led off the eighth against Wilson with a double. In between, Puig actually made a two-handed catch.
"He's been incredible in right field," Mattingly said. "I was thinking about that during the game. If there's a guy you want out there, you need to throw a guy out from there, Yasiel is the guy."
He's definitely the guy, his harrowing journey out of Cuba having come to light this week in several magazine articles that Puig still won't talk about.
The Dodgers won even with Hanley Ramirez sidelined by a bruised left hand. Justin Turner, who filled in for Ramirez, doubled leading off the fifth inning and scored the second run.
Ryu (3-1) allowed four hits and avenged his only bad start of the season, when the Giants scored eight runs (six earned) off him in only two innings on April 4.
"I had better control on my end this time, and less mistakes," said Ryu.
Ryu has thrown 26 scoreless innings on the road this year and a total of 28 dating to last year.
"I think Ryu was pretty good today," said Giants catcher Buster Posey. "He did a good job of pitching off his heater and everything kind of came out [of his hand] looking the same."
After Federowicz's RBI single in the second gave the Dodgers the lead, Puig's circus act took over. With one out and Belt on first, Puig dropped the one-handed try, saying later the ball hit his glove and his sore left thumb. He recovered and gunned to second ahead of Belt, who had to hold up halfway between first and second. So instead of an error, Puig was credited with an assist. The next fly ball hit his way in the seventh inning, Puig made a two-handed catch. He didn't have that luxury on Blanco's ball, racing back and reaching up for a desperate web gem.
Dodgers hitters did a good job running up the pitch count of Bumgarner, who also appeared to have a running disagreement with plate umpire Seth Buckminster over the strike zone.
Bumgarner already had made 89 pitches going into the fifth, which opened with Turner doubling to left field. Turner tagged to third on Puig's flyout and was singled home by Gonzalez, chasing Bumgarner while extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Matt Kemp, who dropped Hunter Pence's routine fly ball Wednesday night, battled the wind to run down Michael Morse's tricky fly on the warning track to end the sixth inning.
Jansen wound up making 30 pitches in the ninth, which started with a strikeout of Morse, only for the slider in the dirt to bounce past Federowicz.
"That's all on me," the catcher said. "I wish they had given me a passed ball. I easily block that ball 99 percent of the time and I can't let it happen again. Should have been a 1-2-3 inning."
Federowicz was relieved with his hit, which broke an 0-for-17 drought.
"I know I can hit, I always have," he said. "But to look at your average going down all the time, it's not that fun."
Or that easy.