Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — Before the Dodgers took the field on Monday, Nick Punto was presented with the team’s Heart and Hustle Award, to the sounds of the proud and boisterous approval of the crowd.
Later in the ball game, he showed why he deserved it.
Punto homered in the seventh inning as the Dodgers rallied past the New York Mets 4-2 on Monday night to stretch their winning streak to six games.
The Dodgers’ 38-8 streak gave the 2013 Dodgers the franchise’s best 46-game run of the modern era, with the Brooklyn Superbas last doing so in 1899.
That’s right — the last time the Dodgers were this hot was before Teddy Roosevelt took office, before barbershop quartets heralded the phenomenon known as a home run, and before Babe Ruth was old enough to pick up a baseball bat.
“It feels like one of those teams,” said Punto, who won a World Series championship in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals. “The fan support has been incredible. There is a buzz in LA.”
The second inning was a rough point for Nolasco, who gave up four consecutive singles, to Ike Davis, Wilmer Flores, John Buck, and Omar Quintanilla. The Mets took a 2-0 lead before Nolasco, who has a career ERA of over 5.00 against the Mets, recorded a single out in the second.
Punto, who was honored before the game with the award, presented by “El Toro” himself, Fernando Valenzuela, prevented further damage by turning a double play to end the inning. Punto made another nice play in the fourth, when he robbed Quintanilla of a base hit. Quintanilla connected and send the ball to shallow left center. Punto, who stands at a modest 5″9, tracked the ball into the outfield and made a leaping stretch to snag the ball.
The top of the Dodger lineup started picking on Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy in the sixth. Crawford led off the inning by grounding a ball up the middle, forcing Murphy out of position to pursue. Murphy was unable to make the throw to first. He was then unable to snag a shallow blooper by Mark Ellis, putting runners on first and second. Adrian Gonzalez then singled to left center, scoring Crawford. Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares committed a throwing error trying to gun down Ellis on his advance to third. The ball got away from third baseman Wilmer Flores, allowing Ellis to score and Gonzalez to take third.
Yasiel Puig sacrificed Gonzalez home to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.
The RBI by Gonzalez extended his streak of games in which he has at least one RBI to seven. It is the longest streak for a Dodger since Adrian Beltre in 2004.
Even now, Gonzalez prefers to credit the guys around him for the milestone.
“You can’t hit RBIs if guys aren’t on base,” Gonzalez said after the game. “That’s all there is to it.”
As fortunate as Nolasco was to escape the second inning, he was eternally thankful following the seventh.
Nolasco allowed two runners aboard before being lifted. Reliever Ronald Belisario gave up an infield single, and almost threw the ball well past Gonzalez at first, to load the bases with one out. After falling behind in a 2-0 count to Lagares, Belisario recovered to record a strikeout on the outside corner before getting Murphy to line out to deep right to end the inning.
Through six and a third innings, Nolasco, who got the win (9-9), gave up seven hits but only the pair of runs to keep the Dodgers in it.
“With this team, offensively, they’re going to break through sooner or later,” Nolasco said after the game. “So it was a good feeling to have.”
Moments after Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. went tumbling over the left field foul wall chasing a ball that was out of play, Punto justified his Heart and Hustle Award. Punto connected off reliever Carlos Torres to a ball deep over the wall in right field. It was just the second home run of the season for the 195-pound shortstop, but it gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.
Kenley Jansen faced the final four Mets of the ball game and struck out three of them for his 18th save of the year.
“Obviously the attitude is good, the momentum has been good, the confidence is really high,” Manager Don Mattingly said after the game. “So, to me there’s room for improvement, but we’ve been getting good pitching. They keep us in every night and give us a chance.”
If you’re the type that likes to continue to hear good news, Matt Kemp was spotted dropping balls over the outfield walls during early batting practice.
The Dodgers will put Hyun Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99 ERA) on the mound Tuesday to take on Mets Ace and All Star starter Matt Harvey (9-3, 2.09).