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Hyun-Jin Ryu's streak ends but Dodgers still power past Pirates

Hyun-Jin Ryu's streak ends but Dodgers still power past Pirates
Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu delivers in the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh on Saturday. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

The streak ended at 9:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, 6:34 p.m. for those on the West Coast, at PNC Park after a rain delay of 1 hour 48 minutes and a flawless first inning, on a mistake beyond Hyun-Jin Ryu’s control.

Josh Bell’s leadoff double in the second inning marked the beginning of the end of Ryu’s run of 32 consecutive scoreless innings. Melky Cabrera followed with a swinging bunt that bounced in front of the plate, where Dodgers catcher Russell Martin snatched the ball and threw it to third base in an effort to nab Bell. It ended up bouncing into left field. Bell scored and the streak was over, 27 innings shy of the record Orel Hershiser set in 1988.

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It was the first run Ryu gave up since May 1 and the Pittsburgh Pirates added one in the second inning. They threatened to score more, generating traffic on the bases in each of Ryu’s final four innings, but could not capitalize as the Dodgers ran away with a 7-2 victory powered by a slew of doubles.

Ryu (7-1) gave up a season-high 10 hits and had only three strikeouts, but didn’t walk a batter. His strikeout-to-walk ratio this season stands at 62 to four. His earned-run average inched up from 1.52 to 1.65.

He supplied the go-ahead, two-out, run-scoring double in the third inning against right-hander Joe Musgrove, just missing his first career home run by a few feet, after Chris Taylor extended the inning with a single in a 10-pitch at-bat.

“I knew it was hit well,” Ryu said through an interpreter, “but I have to work on my launch angle.”

It was one of the Dodgers’ eight doubles, their most since July 2, 1978, and one off the franchise record. Max Muncy hit two. Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor had the others. Matt Beaty and Martin were the only Dodgers starters without a double.

“I think it’s a different animal than last year,” Muncy said. “Last year, we relied pretty heavily on the home run and this year we’re able to produce runs in a different manner and that’s made us a more complete team and a more dangerous team.”

Julio Urias entered the game for the Dodgers in the seventh inning to pitch for the first time since his arrest May 13 on suspicion of domestic battery and subsequent seven-day administrative leave. The 22-year-old left-hander worked around an infield single and his throwing error in a 20-pitch seventh inning, and ended it by fielding a grounder between his legs. He struck out two in the eighth inning and retired the side on 10 pitches.

“With Julio, nothing surprises us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Hadn’t pitched in a major league game in quite some time. But he was sharp.”

Remarkable command has fueled the 32-year-old Ryu’s ascent to top-tier status, one that began when he was healthy last season. The ability to put all five of his pitches where he wants to consistently, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said, has allowed Ryu to extend his dominance to 2019.

“No hitter can sit up there and guess what he’s going to give,” Honeycutt said. “And his mind’s clear with what he wants to do with every guy. ... I mean, when you can go all quadrants with different pitches, it’s going to be a pretty good day.”

The command spawned what became the 11th-longest scoreless innings streak since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

Honeycutt noted Ryu got away with a few mistakes in those brilliant starts. On Saturday, the mistakes multiplied and damage resulted. After a first inning in which he was dominant as ever, retiring the side on seven pitches with two strikeouts, Ryu began the second by falling behind 2 and 0 on Bell. The next pitch was a borderline strike down and away but Bell stroked the ball the other way for a double anyway.

Two pitches later, Cabrera hit a dribbler that went a few feet, prompting Martin’s blunder. Cabrera wound up at second base. He moved to third on Francisco Cervelli’s single, the first hit given up by Ryu with a runner in scoring position this season after opponents were 0 for 23, and scored on a single by Cole Tucker.

Outfield defense rescued Ryu in the sixth inning. A runner stood at third base with two outs when Jake Elmore hit a line drive to the wall in right field. Bellinger retreated and leaped at the wall to make the catch, extinguish the threat and end Ryu’s night.

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“I did give up a lot of hits and pitchers really shouldn’t give up that many hits,” Ryu said. “But minimizing damage was my main focus and I’m just happy in that regard.”

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