|Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu throws to a San Francisco Giants batter during the second inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Tuesday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers earned his 14th win of the season against the San Francisco Giants on the road on Tuesday.
At AT&T Park, Ryu tossed seven strong innings, giving up one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out six. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1, on a pair of solo blasts by Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, as Ryu improved to 14-7 in his rookie Major League Baseball (MLB) season and lowered his ERA from 3.03 to 2.97. He now has 150 strikeouts in 188 innings.
The win snapped Ryu's personal two-game losing streak. He entered the game having lost four of his previous five starts.
Ryu also improved to 7-4 in away starts, as his road ERA went down from 3.89 to 3.69.
His only blemish of the game was the solo shot by the light-hitting second baseman Tony Abreu in the bottom fifth. It was the only extra-base hit that the Giants mustered against the South Korean.
Hunter Pence, the Giants' right fielder who carried a .545 batting average against Ryu into the game, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against the lefty on Tuesday.
Ryu has now thrown at least five innings in each of his 29 starts this season. Among the National League (NL) rookies, Ryu pulled into a tie for first in wins with Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals. Ryu is also first in innings pitched and second in ERA among rookie hurlers.
Ryu was 1-2 in four previous starts against the Giants with a 2.81 ERA, and San Francisco had been batting .300 off the left-hander. But on this night, Ryu was as sharp and steady as he had been at any point this season.
Angel Pagan hit a leadoff single in the bottom first, but Ryu retired the next eight batters he faced, before Pagan hit another single in the bottom third.
Rookie sensation Puig gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead with a towering shot to right center off Matt Cain in the top fifth. Ryu opened the bottom fifth by striking out Pablo Sandoval, but Abreu, with only one home run in 47 games this season, took Ryu over the left-center field wall.
Kemp put the Dodgers out in front in the top sixth with a solo shot of his own, and Ryu didn't give up a hit over his final two innings.
From the Dodgers' bullpen, Brian Wilson pitched a perfect eighth and Kenley Jansen worked around a Buster Posey single in the ninth to pick up his 28th save of the season.
The Dodgers, now 91-66, have already clinched the NL West division title. Ryu will make one more regular season start on the final day of the season on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
Ryu is expected to slide behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the Dodgers' playoff rotation and start Game 3 of the NL Division Series. No South Korean pitcher has made a postseason start in MLB.
Park Chan-ho pitched in 13 postseason games for three different clubs, all in relief. Kim Byung-hyun served as the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the World Series in 2001.
After the game, Ryu said he was looking forward to his first big league playoffs.
"I think the postseason here will be similar to the postseason in Korea or to other international games," said Ryu, who has pitched in Summer Olympics and World Baseball Classics. "I hope we can win."
He said he was pleased with holding the Giants to just one run over seven innings and that he was feeling great in the final stretch of the season. This was his first start since last Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"I had good bullpen sessions before the start, and it was good to get some rest, too," he said. "I had a good command on all my pitches. Now that my ERA has fallen below 3.00, my goal (for the final regular season start) is to keep it that way." (Yonhap news)