Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp star in return to L.A., but Reds lose in ninth

Posted at 4:18 AM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 05:23:06-04

Yasiel Puig’s homer stole the show early in his first game back in L.A., and Matt Kemp appeared to add the coup de grace for the Reds.

But Joc Pederson had the last word for the Dodgers.

Pederson hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, spoiling the return of Puig and Kemp and sending the Reds to a painful 4-3 loss.

Puig, who arrived at the ballpark 70 minutes late and missed getting his NL Championship ring from the Dodgers owner, smashed a two-run homer in the first inning off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth, Kemp hit a two-out single to score Curt Casali from second with the go-ahead run.

But Reds closer Raisel Iglesias (0-3) walked pinch-hitter David Freese leading off and Pederson homered over the right field wall to give the Dodgers a walkoff win before 52,974 fans.

Puig, Kemp and fellow former Dodgers Kyle Farmer and Alex Wood -- all traded to the Reds in the offseason -- were given pregame tributes on the video board and loud ovations. Puig got the loudest, and Dodger fans responded again when he stepped up the plate for the first time.

“It felt like something special today,” Puig said, according to “There were a lot of people, a lot of fans at the game. All the fans were chanting my name and gave me an ovation. This made me happy. I don’t know why people did that. Probably, it’s because I did the best job I could do the last six years here for the city.”

RELATED: Puig dismisses late arrival.

“These Dodgers fans are special,” Kemp said. “Yasiel and I have been here a long time and we know a lot of people out here. They showed mad love. Yeah, it was special, especially being here on Jackie Robinson Day.”

Both Puig and Kemp went 2-for-4.

The game - also featuring Kershaw in his season debut against the Reds' Luis Castillo, brilliant in his first three outings - started with a big, dramatic hit that Dodgers players and fans used to enjoy watching from Puig.

"I think the fans were pretty shocked, but we weren't that shocked," Kemp said, "That's something he would do."

Puig flipped the bat as he broke into his home run trot and admired his 50th career blast at Dodger Stadium. Fans responded with a mix of boos and cheers.

“I wish I could have done anything but give up a homer to Puig in his first at-bat, but he put a great swing on the ball," Kershaw said.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner, who had been bothered by left shoulder inflammation in spring training, shut out the Reds over the next six innings. The left-hander allowed five hits, struck out six and walked none.

“For me, it was a success overall,” Kershaw said.

Cody Bellinger's ground-rule double into the right field corner left the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the first and Castillo, who had control problems, gave up a bases-loaded walk to A.J. Pollock that tied it in the fifth.

In the third, Castillo drilled Bellinger, the NL home run leader, on the right kneecap with a 95 mph pitch. Castillo signaled an apology to Bellinger, who hobbled to first base but had to leave the game after the inning.

“He’s a very good pitcher,” Kershaw said, “but you can’t miss by that much. That was really bad.”

Castillo walked five and struck out seven in five innings. He allowed four hits.

Neither starter figured in the decision. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen (1-0) got the win after giving up Kemp’s go-ahead single.

Bellinger's X-rays after the game were negative.

“Still definitely hurts but nothing serious,” Bellinger said. “Wake up tomorrow and see how it feels.”

Bellinger leads the NL with nine homers, 22 runs, 22 RBIs and a .424 batting average.


Reds: 1B Joey Votto was sitting out until striking out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... LHP Alex Wood (lower back) joined the team in LA from Goodyear, Arizona, where he has been rehabbing.

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) makes a minor league rehab start Wednesday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He’ll toss four innings and 60 pitches, followed by an inning in the bullpen. ... LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and felt good.


The Dodgers have homered in 30 consecutive home games dating to Aug. 21. They are two away from tying the Colorado Rockies’ major league mark of homering in 32 straight home games from April 19-July 3, 1999.


Casali became the first Reds catcher to start a game hitting leadoff since 1900. He was hitless with a strikeout in his first three at-bats before doubling leading off the ninth.


Retired Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully joined the widow of his friend Jackie Robinson to honor the player who broke baseball’s color barrier during Robinson’s centennial birthday celebration.

Robinson’s 96-year-old widow, Rachel, was joined by the couple’s daughter, Sharon, and son, David, on the field. Scully greeted Rachel Robinson with a kiss after being introduced to the crowd, with Scully drawing the loudest cheers in a rare public appearance.


Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (0-0, 0.82 ERA) won his only career start against LA at Dodger Stadium last May.

Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (2-1, 4.76) has a 1-1 record with 4.61 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati. He’s struck out 16 and walked three.