|Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig breaks his bat in the third inning on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)|
At Petco Park in San Diego, the South Korean left-hander overcame a shaky start and struck out seven batters while giving up just three hits and left the game with a 1-0 lead.
He retired 16 batters in a row in one stretch, but the Dodgers’ bullpen imploded in the eighth, as reliever Brian Wilson gave up a game-tying solo homer to pinch hitter Seth Smith, and then a two-run single to Chris Denorfia.
The Dodgers lost 3-1.
This was Ryu’s first game of the season in the United States.
On March 23 in Sydney, Australia, he kept the Arizona Diamondbacks off the scoreboard for five innings to win his season debut.
Ryu extended his scoreless streak to 12 innings.
Ryu suffered a foot injury during that first start against the Diamondbacks and had to remove a torn nail on his big right toe.
|Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin delivers in the first inning on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)|
He did have a rocky start against the Padres, walking the leadoff man Everth Cabrera and giving up a single to the next batter, Denorfia.
Cabrera advanced to third and Denorfia went to second when the Dodgers’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez cut off a throw by right fielder Yasiel Puig.
Ryu struck out Chase Headley but walked Jedd Gyorko to load the bases.
The southpaw got out of the jam by getting Yonder Alonso to hit a comebacker to the mound, and Ryu threw home for the force to start the inning-ending double play.
Ryu also got into a jam in the second inning, after back-to-back singles by Tommy Medica and Will Venable.
After a one-out sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, Ryu struck out Cabrera to once again escape unscathed.
Ryu settled down afterward, retiring the side in order in the next four innings.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with an RBI single by Carl Crawford in the fifth. That appeared to be enough of a cushion for the Dodgers as Ryu stymied one Padre after another with an array of pitches.
Wilson spoiled Ryu’s bid for the victory, however, giving up three runs without retiring a batter in the eighth.
Ryu was 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA last season and finished fourth in the voting for the NL Rookie of the Year award.
He’d pitched the previous seven seasons for the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization.
After the game, Ryu said he was “satisfied” with all of his pitches and shrugged off the bullpen’s struggles.
“My fastball, curve, slider and changeup were working well today,” he said.
“The hitters were prepared well (in the first inning), but I was able to beat them afterward.
“The eighth inning was disappointing, but it’s just one game. I just have to get ready for my next start.”
He said he was able to command his curve and slider to keep San Diego hitters off balance and also that attacking the low part of the strike zone helped him get out of early jams.
He admitted he was “too nervous” in the early going because it was an opening game in the U.S. but said he was able to relax as the game went on.
Ryu also said his big toe is “perfectly fine” and he is in better shape physically and mentally now than during his rookie season. (Yonhap)