Padres-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

Yasiel Puig is one of the biggest contributors to the Los Angeles Dodgers heading towards an NL West title.

The Dodgers would prefer he remains on the field.

After putting a pair of disciplinary issues behind him, Puig looks to continue pounding on the San Diego Padres in the middle game of this series Saturday night.

Puig is a leading contender for the NL Rookie of the Year award and a sensation for the Dodgers (79-55), who are 10 1/2 games ahead of second-place Arizona. His .354 average, 13 homers, 31 RBIs and 53 runs are key reasons Los Angeles is all but assured of returning to the postseason for the first time in four years.

Despite his tremendous production, the right fielder has recently found himself in the center of controversy. Puig was benched after four innings of Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs, failing to break up a double play with a slide and slamming down his bat after striking out.

Those on-field incidents came a week after he was fined for arriving late to a game.

Puig moved past those issues Friday, collecting a double among his four hits and stealing two bases to power a 9-2 win over San Diego. He's 9 for 16 with two doubles, one homer and two RBIs over his last four games, and that production may only continue versus the Padres (60-74).

"He played the game the way we want," manager Don Mattingly said. "The other day is over and he played well tonight. We've talked about it, and it's over. It's not something that continues on. It's been handled and we're moving forward. He understands where we're coming from.

"I like Yasiel. He's a good player, he's a good kid, and I think he's going to help us win. So I want him in there.''

Puig has a .394 average with three homers and seven RBIs over eight meetings.

Adrian Gonzalez, a member of the Padres from 2006-10, has also tormented his former team, hitting .354 with six homers and 18 RBIs over the last 20 games. That includes a .405 average while plating 10 runs in 10 matchups at Chavez Ravine.

The first baseman drove in four Friday while hitting two homers.

Production at the plate may be important since Chris Capuano (4-7, 4.74) takes the mound. He's 0-1 with a 6.98 ERA while failing to reach the sixth inning in each of his last four starts.

The veteran left-hander was pulled after the fifth again Sunday, giving up three runs and six hits in an 8-1 loss to Boston.

Capuano is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in four games - two starts - versus the Padres this year. However, he was sharp against them June 23, throwing five scoreless innings while not getting a decision in a 3-1 road win.

The Padres, losers of six of eight, give the ball to Andrew Cashner (8-8, 3.55), who could use some help if he's going to avoid a fourth straight loss.

The right-hander has been backed by three total runs over his last four starts, a big reason he's 0-3 despite a 2.42 ERA in that span.

The offense didn't give him any support Sunday while he yielded two hits in seven scoreless innings of a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Cashner experienced a similar scenario in his only career start against Capuano on June 23, giving up one run in eight innings while also not getting a decision.