MLB news: Yasiel Puig returns to Dodgers lineup, Brad Ausmus confirms faith...

MLB news: Yasiel Puig returns to Dodgers lineup, Brad Ausmus confirms faith in Joe Nathan

The Dodgers welcome back Yasiel Puig, Brad Ausmus backs Joe Nathan despite the closer’s recent struggles, and a special guest couldn’t tell Joe Maddon’s Rays get back to winning.

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig returned to the club’s lineup Monday after missing a game with a right hip flexor strain he suffered on Saturday.

The Cuban native went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored out of the third hole in the Dodgers lineup as Los Angeles topped Cincinnati, 6-2, behind a solid outing from Dan Haren. The 23-year-old extended his on-base streak to 39 games in the process.

Monday’s game was Puig’s 162nd in the major leagues since he debuted in 2013. Through his first year in the bigs, Puig has hit .325/.406/.554 with 30 home runs, 37 doubles, and a 168 OPS+. He has been even better in 2014, raising both his on-base percentage and slugging average, while showing improved plate discipline.

Puig (and just about everyone else) was overshadowed by Dodgers center fielder Scott Van Slyke, who went 3-for-3 with two home runs, two walks, and four RBI against the Reds.

Ausmus backs Tigers’ closer Nathan

Despite Joe Nathan’s recent struggles for the Tigers, manager Brad Ausmus dismissed the notion that Joba Chamberlain might replace Nathan as the club’s closer.

“Right now, Joe is—and has been—the closer the whole year,” Ausmus told reporters, via MLive.com’s James Schmehl. “The only times he hasn’t closed are days I felt it was best to give him a rest.”

Nathan was unavailable for Detroit’s game Sunday in which Chamberlain blew a save after surrendering a three-run home run to David Ortiz in the ninth inning. Chamberlain hadn’t allowed a run since May 11, a stretch spanning 12 appearances out of the Tigers’ bullpen.

Nathan has had a bumpy season in 2014 after signing a two-year, $20 million deal with Detroit this offseason. The right-hander has a 7.04 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks in 23 innings pitched, while converting 13 of his 17 save opportunities.

Medicine man no help to Rays

Rays manager Joe Maddon invited a Seminole medicine man to Tropicana Field Monday to help the struggling Rays overcome their ills. Even 77-year-old tribal elder Bobby Henry could not overcome Tampa Bay’s issues. Erasmo Ramirez and four Seattle relievers shut out the Rays, 3-0, while Robinson Cano and Stefen Romero combined to drive in all the Mariners’ runs. David Price shouldered the loss, allowing all three runs while striking out 10 in eight innings.

The Rays have lost 13 of 14.

Scores

Mariners 3, Rays 0
Dodgers 6, Reds 2
Orioles 4, Red Sox 0
Pirates 6, Cubs 2
Blue Jays 5, Twins 4
Indians 17, Rangers 7
White Sox 6, Tigers 5
Astros 4, Cardinals 3
Angels 4, A’s 1
Nationals 9, Giants 2
Yankees-KC, postponed