PHOENIX — The last time most of the players at Chase Field had the kind of game that Hyun-Jin Ryu had Saturday, they probably were still in high school.
Ryu struck out nine batters and limited the Arizona Diamondbacks to one run over the first six innings of the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory. He was equally effective as a hitter, collecting three hits, including a double, and scoring a run.
Midway through the game, the husky South Korean left-hander was being called “Babe Ryuth” by Diamondbacks broadcasters Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly.
The box score will indicate that Ryu was charged with three runs and that his earned-run average climbed to 2.89, but those numbers fail to convey the level of his dominance.
Ryu (2-1) allowed the first two batters of the seventh inning to reach base and was replaced by Ronald Belisario, who gave up a pair of singles that resulted in both of them scoring. The two runs reduced the Dodgers’ lead to 6-3.
The Diamondbacks moved to within 6-5 in the eighth inning, when setup man Kenley Jansen served up a home run to Martin Prado and a run-scoring pinch-hit double to Aaron Hill.
A run-scoring double in the ninth by newcomer Ramon Hernandez provided a two-run cushion for closer Brandon League, who saved his fourth game.
But for the first six innings, the game belonged to Ryu.
He pitched his way out of trouble in the third inning, striking out Gerardo Parra with two outs and a man on second base. He made another escape in the fourth inning, retiring Alfredo Marte and Josh Wilson in succession with men on first and second.
Because pitchers don’t hit in South Korea, Ryu hadn’t picked up a bat since high school before he signed with the Dodgers. His offensive inadequacies showed in his first two games, as he was a combined 0 for four with two strikeouts.
But he was somehow able to hit Ian Kennedy, who was a contender for the Cy Young Award as recently as two years ago.
Ryu doubled to the gap in right-center in his first at-bat. He moved to third on a hard-hit single by Carl Crawford, but couldn’t score, as Skip Schumaker and Matt Kemp struck out.
Scenes like this had become routine. The Dodgers entered the game batting .148 with men in scoring position. In the second inning, Hernandez grounded into a double play with men on first and second. Adrian Gonzalez was stranded at third base, as Luis Cruz struck out to end the inning.
The Dodgers went up, 1-0, in the fourth inning, when Gonzalez hit a solo home run.
They added two more runs in the fifth inning, which started with a single to center by Ryu. Crawford hit into a force play, but he scored from first on a double by Schumaker. A wild pitch allowed Schumaker to reach third base and a single by Andre Ethier let him score.
The Dodgers were up, 3-0.
Ryu singled again in the fifth inning, this time with two out. Crawford doubled and Schumaker walked to load the bases for Kemp, who was hitless in his previous three at-bats. But Kemp singled to left, driving in two runs and increasing the lead to 5-1. The hit also marked the end of Kennedy’s night.
Kennedy was replaced by Matt Reynolds, who gave up a two-out single to Gonzalez that scored Schumaker for a 6-1 lead.
Gonzalez finished the game three for four with a walk.
Crawford was two for five and his batting average dropped, from .412 to .410.
The two runs charged to Jansen in his three-hit eighth inning were the first given up by him this season. Jansen had yielded only two hits in his previous five appearances.
©2013 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services