Ryu Hyun-jin almost perfect in his fifth win

May 27, 2014

(Yonhap) — Ryu Hyun-jin picked up his fifth win of the year at home on Monday after flirting with a perfect game against the Cincinnati Reds.

Ryu was perfect through seven innings, but ended up being charged with three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings to improve to 5-2 for the season, as the Dodgers hung on defeat the Reds 4-3.

Ryu struck out seven and walked none, while his ERA went up from 3.00 to 3.10. He threw 95 pitches, 66 of them for strikes.

Ryu lost his bid for a perfect game and a no-hitter in the eighth inning, when Todd Frazier led off with a double down the left field line.

Ryan Ludwick quickly followed with a single, and Chris Heisey drove in the Reds’ first run of the night with a sacrifice fly to right.

Ryu was taken out of the game after giving up another hit, this time a single by Brayan Pena.

Brian Wilson, who relieved Ryu, allowed both of the inherited runners to come home on a double by Billy Hamilton. The Dodgers summoned closer Kenley Jansen with two outs and bases loaded to face Brandon Phillips, and the right-hander struck out Phillips swinging.

Ryu cruised along from the start and needed just 56 pitches to get through the first five innings. The Dodgers went up 1-0 in the bottom third when first baseman Frazier misplayed a grounder by Dee Gordon.

Ryu helped his own cause in the bottom seventh. He hit a grounder to third with men on second and third, and short stop Zack Cozart bobbled the ball, allowing Justin Turner to score.

Carl Crawford then launched a double to left center for two more LA runs.

With a four-run cushion and working on a perfect game, Ryu seemed headed for a sure victory to start the eighth. Frazier ended the suspense, however, by lining a double to left.

Ryu received a standing ovation from more than 45,000 fans at Dodger Stadium as he walked off the mound.

On Sunday, Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter for the Dodgers. Dating back to Saturday’s game, the Dodgers hadn’t given up a hit in a team-record 17 straight innings until Frazier’s hit in the eighth.

There has been only one perfect game in the Dodgers’ history: by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1965.

Jansen put two men on board with two outs in the ninth after a single and a walk, but got Devin Mesoraco to fly out to center to preserve Ryu’s victory.

Ryu afterward didn’t hide his disappointment over losing a chance to make history.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu throws in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu throws in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, May 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

“After I gave up the first hit, I realized how difficult it is to accomplish such a great feat,” he told reporters. “Through seven innings, I pitched the best game of my major league career. I had great command of all my pitches, and I was feeling great.”

He admitted he was thinking about the possibility of a perfect game and said luck wasn’t on his side on this night.

“I should have been concentrating even harder after the first hit, but I wasn’t able to do that,” Ryu added. “Until I left the game, I was really comfortable out there.”

The Dodgers sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and scored three times. The inning dragged on for 30 minutes, but Ryu denied the long inning had any effect on him in the top of the eighth.

“It’s quite common for pitchers to throw after a long inning,” he said. “I just didn’t pitch well (in the eighth inning).”

Ryu almost didn’t even get a victory as the Dodgers bullpen imploded. Wilson walked two batters and loaded the bases in the eighth before handing things over to Jansen, with the Dodgers nursing a 4-3 lead. Jansen himself walked a tightrope as he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the save.

The Dodgers have the third-worst bullpen ERA in the National League at 4.15.

Ryu said he kept his fingers crossed as he was watching his relievers from the dugout. Asked if he’d said anything to Wilson after the eighth, Ryu replied, “There’s nothing you can tell a pitcher who left the game the way he did. I have faith that he will take care of business next time.”