By Steve Dilbeck
9:35 PM PDT, September 16, 2013
It’s not easy to give up only two hits in eight innings and lose, as Hyun-Jin Ryu did Monday night, but then very little comes easily to the Dodgers these days.
Ryu gave up only one hit through six innings, but it happened to be good for a two-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks rode it to a 2-1 victory in Phoenix.
So the Dodgers’ magic number for clinching the National League West remains at four. The Dodgers have lost four consecutive games and nine of 12.
Their lead over the Diamondbacks remains formidable at 9½ games with only 12 regular-season games remaining, but closing the deal has become unexpectedly difficult.
Ryu (13-7) threw a complete game, giving up the two hits and a walk, with four strikeouts.
The Dodgers started out as if they were going to make it a rough night for Trevor Cahill. Nick Punto led off with a single and Yasiel Puig walked with two outs, but A.J. Ellis, batting fifth, bounced out.
And then Cahill went into his groove, retiring the next 13 Dodgers. He suddenly looked exactly like the guy who came in 5-0 with a 2.04 earned-run average in nine starts against the Dodgers.
Ryu suffered his one hiccup in the first inning. He walked leadoff man A.J. Pollock and gave up a two-run home run to Goldschmidt, his 33rd.
Ryu then retired the next 19 Diamondbacks. He did not give up another hit until Aaron Hill’s two-out single in the seventh inning.
The Dodgers scraped together a run against Cahill in the sixth inning, though it was a lonely run after loading the bases with two walks sandwiched around a Punto double.
Adrian Gonzalez, so consistent all season, swung at the first pitch he saw from Cahill, flying out to shallow left field. Puig walked to force in the run and the Diamondbacks called on Josh Collmenter, who struck out Ellis and got Skip Schumaker to bounce out.
So they loaded the bases with no outs and scored one run on a walk.
The Dodgers mustered one final rally in the ninth inning after pinch-hitter Michael Young and Schumaker opened with singles against right-hander Brad Ziegler.
But Don Mattingly asked Juan Uribe to bunt the runners over. Uribe instead bunted back to Ziegler, who threw to third base for the force on Young.
Nick Buss bounced out to first base to advance the runners and Matt Kemp pinch-hit for his first at-bat since July 5. He struck out to end it.
Suddenly, nothing is coming easily for anyone in blue.
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