Stewart, Dodgers complete sweep of D-backs

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[September 08, 2016]  LOS ANGELES -- Inexperience on the mound turned into a great experience again for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yasiel Puig homered, and rookie Brock Stewart captured his first major league win as the Dodgers earned a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night.

The first-place Dodgers (79-60), winners of five in a row, increased their advantage in the National League West to five games over of the San Francisco Giants, who lost to the Colorado Rockies.

The Diamondbacks (58-81) lost for the fifth time in seven games.

For the first time in Dodgers franchise history, rookie starters claimed wins in four consecutive contests, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jose De Leon, Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling recorded decisions before Stewart.

"That's great," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "All of those young guys have given us quality starts, good outings and competing out there, and they're really growing. This is definitely a crash course, nice emergence in the big leagues."

Stewart said, "I know we're in a pennant race, and I just want to put the team in a position to win. Today, I didn't have my best stuff, but I was able to still put the team in a position to win."

Stewart (1-2) allowed a run on five hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out one on 79 pitches (55 strikes) before a parade of seven relievers followed him to the hill. Kenley Jansen earned his 43rd save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Puig has re-emerged at the plate since returning Sept. 2 from a demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He is 4-for-9 (.444) with two home runs and five RBIs in four games since he was recalled.

Puig, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in the series finale against Arizona, launched his ninth home run of the season, a solo shot with one out in the sixth off Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray (7-13). It was one of only two hits Ray gave up, an RBI double to Corey Seager in the first inning being the other one.

Los Angeles managed just four hits overall to seven for Arizona.

"It was curveball. I tried to back-door it but it just didn't break enough," Ray said of the pitch on which Puig homered. "He's a strong hitter. Even though he might have gotten off the end of the bat, he's strong enough to get it out."

Ray fanned 12, walked four and surrendered three runs in six innings. The left-hander has posted 20 games with at six strikeouts this season.

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 Dodgers starting pitcher Brock Stewart (48) throws in the first inning against Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sport

The Diamondbacks missed a scoring opportunity when they loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning. After Roberts called on southpaw Grant Dayton to face left-handed-hitting Jake Lamb, who has 27 home runs and a team-high 85 RBIs, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale sent Rickie Weeks Jr. to pinch-hit for Lamb. Weeks struck out.

"That's when we use him to hit," Hale said of Weeks. "In those situations off a left-handed hitter, it's tough to hit for Jake. But with the game on the line, we thought that was our chance. We always trust Rickie. He's had good at-bats, got to 3-2, and the guy made a good pitch on him."

Hale also wasn't pleased with the balls and strikes called by plate ump Stu Scheurwater.

"His zone was interesting all night, let's put it that way," Hale said. "We don't have an electric strike zone yet."

With two outs in the first, Paul Goldschmidt doubled home A.J. Pollock, who walked, for a 1-0 Arizona edge. Goldschmidt popped a flare down the first base line that Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson had in his glove, but the ball squirted out as Culberson hit the ground.

In the bottom of the inning, Seager's RBI double scored Howie Kendrick, who reached on a walk, to tie the score. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly by Puig brought home Seager to make it 2-1 for Los Angeles.

NOTES: Dodgers LHP Scott Kazmir lasted only two-thirds of an inning after experiencing neck and rib pain in his rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City against Nashville on Wednesday. Kazmir gave up three runs and one hit (a home run) with two walks on 33 pitches (15 strikes). He will return to Los Angeles to be re-evaluated. ... Both clubs are off Thursday before beginning three-game sets Friday. Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA) is scheduled to make his return after missing more than two months with a herniated disk. He will face Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (13-8, 3.03) in Miami. At Arizona, Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (14-8, 2.51) opposes Diamondbacks RHP Braden Shipley (3-3, 4.94).

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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