Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers has suffered his fourth straight loss despite his strongest outing of the season.
Ryu held the Giants to a run on five hits over six effective innings against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Monday (local time). It still wasn't enough for his first win of the year, as the Dodgers lost 2-1.
Ryu fell to 0-4 after four starts, but lowered his ERA from 5.87 to 4.64.
The South Korean left-hander missed all of 2015 following a shoulder surgery, and made only one start last year before shutting down with elbow problems.
Ryu is looking for his first big league win since Aug. 31, 2014, but still called his latest start "the best outing I've had since the (shoulder) surgery."
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco on April 24, 2017. (Yonhap)
"They didn't make hard contact on my pitches," he told MLB.com "Although AT&T Park is famous for being pitcher friendly, I wanted to make sure I don't give up home runs and extra bases and I concentrated on keeping my pitches low."
Prior to Monday's start, the left-hander had served up six home runs in 15 1/3 innings, tied for the second most in the National League, but kept the ball in the park in this one.
Ryu had also struggled to throw his four-seam fastball with any zip. Through his first three starts, Ryu was throwing his four-seam fastballs at 89.5 mph on average, more than 3 mph slower than the major league average, according to MLB.com.
While he didn't throw much harder against the Giants, Ryu relied on his changeup -- his strongest pitch this season -- to induce soft contact. In one stretch, Ryu sat down nine straight batters.
Ryu dodged a bullet early, as his defense bailed him out in what could have turned into a big first inning for the Giants.
With the man at second, Buster Posey hit a single to right fielder Yasiel Puig, who charged the hard-hit ball and made a spectacular throw home to gun down Brandon Belt at the plate to end the inning.
Ryu wasn't so lucky in the second inning. Brandon Crawford led off the frame with a double, and two batters later, Joe Panik brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center.
But that was the only run Ryu would concede in this one, and the Giants only got three more singles off him the rest of the way.
Ryu handed things over to Adam Liberatore to start the seventh inning. He has pitched six innings in back-to-back starts.
Ryu made 96 pitches, 61 of them for strikes. All of the six home runs he's given up this season have come against four-seam fastballs, and Ryu went to his changeups more than any other pitch in his repertoire against the Giants. He threw 40 changeups, compared to 30 fastballs, 17 curves and nine sliders.
This was Ryu's first start of the year in which he threw more changeups and fastballs.
"His curveball was good, changeup was good," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts told the Orange County Register. "He held his velocity, even showed the backdoor slider to right-handers. He showed his complete mix tonight."
The Dodgers managed just two singles off San Francisco starter Matt Cain through seven innings, and only eked out a run in the eighth after Ryu had left the mound.
The Dodgers have scored a grand total of two runs in Ryu's 21 1/3 innings this season.
This was Ryu's 10th career appearance against the Giants, more than any other opponent. He had been 4-4 with a 4.07 ERA in 48 2/3 innings against the NL West division rivals, with 31 strikeouts against 16 walks.
Ryu had been strong at San Francisco's AT&T Park, however, going 4-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 33 2/3 innings there before the latest appearance. (Yonhap)