Puig had two singles and made a strong throw from right field to first to complete a game-ending double play, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 on Monday night.
"Storybook," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke homered for last-place Los Angeles, which had lost two in a row. Stephen Fife allowed one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings to earn his first major league win.
Puig batted leadoff and singled in his first at-bat, drawing high-fives from his new teammates. The 22-year-old Cuban defector was brought up the same day left fielder Carl Crawford went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.
After the game, the ball from Puig's first single was in a plastic bag with the date and description labeled in black marker. It was stashed in a half-opened drawer in his locker.
"Impressive," marveled infielder Luis Cruz.
San Diego got the potential tying run on first in the ninth when Brandon League walked Chris Denorfia with one out. But Kyle Blanks flied out to right and Puig fired to first to get Denorfia.
"I'm going to do little things on the field to help the team even when I'm not hitting," Puig said through a translator.
He took a curtain call after the game, obliging the cheering fans.
"I thank the fans for coming out and being here," he said. "I know there's a lot of people in Cuba cheering for me. I'm very happy."
The Dodgers had lost six of their previous 10 games, and as the ball flew Blanks' bat and went high in the air, Mattingly couldn't help but anticipate the worst.
"I'm thinking that ball is going out of the ballpark the way things have been going," he said.
But Puig caught it and made an on-target throw to first standing about a step from the wall.
"With all the hype, it's really just amazing the game ends like that," Mattingly said. "Yeah, it surprised me, but that's Hollywood."
Padres manager Bud Black was impressed, too.
"You don't see that play very often," he said. "Deno reacted well, hustled back, but I think the play was made by the strength of the arm and the accuracy of the throw."
Puig signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Dodgers last June. He showed promise in spring training, hitting .517 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 27 games before he was sent to the minors.
"He's an energetic guy, eager to get on the field, loves the game and always has a smile on his face," Gonzalez said. "We all know he's got a great arm."
Fife (1-0) struck out five and walked two. The right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque earlier in the day to replace left-hander Chris Capuano, who was scratched because of a strained left triceps.
"Seven tries and finally got one," he said, with a ball noting his first big league win in his locker. "It was jitters to start the game with a leadoff walk. The first double play in the first inning kind of settled me in."
Fife made the second consecutive spot start for the injury-riddled Dodgers after Matt Magill filled in for Hyun-Jin Ryu in Sunday's 7-2 loss at Colorado. The 26-year-old right-hander made one previous start for Los Angeles on April 21 against Baltimore, resulting in a no-decision.
He then went on the DL with right shoulder bursitis before making one rehab start.
League pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances.
Left-hander Eric Stults (4-5) pitched seven solid innings, but was saddled with the hard-luck loss.
Gonzalez hit his team-leading eighth homer into the Padres' bullpen with two outs in the first inning. Van Slyke made it 2-0 in the second with a leadoff homer.
The Padres cut it to 2-1 in the sixth on Chase Headley's RBI single that scored Alexi Amarista, who doubled. They had won five straight games at Dodger Stadium dating to last season, including a three-game sweep from April 15-17.
The Padres also threatened in the eighth when Everth Cabrera singled and stole second with one out. But Kenley Jansen retired the next two batters to end the inning.
NOTES: Dodgers INF Hanley Ramirez made his third rehab start for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, playing six innings at shortstop and going 1 for 3 with a double. He could return to club on Tuesday. ... The Dodgers improved to 6-9 in one-run games. ... The Dodgers turned four double plays, while the Padres had two. ... Padres OF Carlos Quentin was nursing a sore right shoulder after running into the wall on Sunday. Manager Bud Black said he likely would return to the lineup on Tuesday or Wednesday. Quentin has yet to face the Dodgers since he charged the mound and confronted Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke on April 11. Greinke broke his collarbone and Quentin was suspended eight games. ... Padres INF Yonder Alonso is regaining strength in his right hand and could be back in action later this week. He was hit on the hand by a pitch on Friday. ... Former Dodgers OF Milton Bradley was convicted Monday of nine misdemeanor counts of abusing his estranged wife, including assault with a deadly weapon. He faces up to 7 1/2 years in jail at his July 2 sentencing in Los Angeles.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.