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Ryu's return to form leaves Dodgers atop NL at break

L.A. survives late scare to blank Padres for second straight game

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers presented a one-day capsule of their first 97 games with Sunday's second consecutive 1-0 win over the Padres.

Deep starting pitching overcame a meager offense, as No. 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu rebounded from the Detroit debacle with six scoreless innings and Yasiel Puig singled home Dee Gordon for the lone run against fellow All-Star Tyson Ross.

The win sent the Dodgers into the break one game ahead of the Giants with the best record in the National League. After being 9 1/2 games back on June 8, they went 21-12, primarily because of starting pitching like Ryu delivered.

"The bounce back was almost perfect," manager Don Mattingly said of Ryu.

The Dodgers scored seven runs in the four-game series and came away with three wins. They have 12 shutouts by the All-Star Game for the first time since 1989. Ryu, who won 13 games last year, is 10-5 with a 3.44 ERA.

"Ten wins is a great thing. I feel very proud about it," he said. "My ERA, I'm very unsatisfied with that number, and in the second half of the season I'm focused on lowering that."

There were nervous moments for the bullpen over the final three innings, but J.P. Howell pitched out of Brandon League's jam and Kenley Jansen pitched out of his own with a pair of ninth-inning strikeouts for save No. 27, his turbocharged fastball exploding to 98 mph.

One of the knocks on Ryu when he hit the open market from Korea was a tendency to get bored with the monotony of the long season with the ability to up his game when the mood struck.

After getting pushed around by the Tigers earlier in the week, lacking fastball velocity and being chased after 2 1/3 innings, he rebounded against the Padres.

"It was definitely a wake-up call," Ryu said of the Detroit loss. "Last time I was very forgettable, so I came out today very focused in, and I tried to just remember the basic things I need to do. Specifically, I really had command of my breaking balls today. I was able to get ahead of the count to a lot of players, and that led to a lot of strikeouts." 

The difference -- besides the contrasting batting orders -- was that Ryu's fastball added four miles per hour in five days. He said his fluctuating velocity probably keeps him from reaching the level of Cy Young-winning teammates Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

"I'm not sure exactly I could pinpoint something, but there is one thing at the top of my head and that would probably be consistency with velocity game in and game out," he said. "Those guys keep their averages very consistently, whereas I have a few different ranges in games." 

Mattingly said Ryu can't help but get overlooked pitching behind Kershaw and Greinke. "But I think the people that kind of know within baseball, get him on the free market, see what happens," he said. "They'd be going crazy over him."

A lively fastball made Ryu's slider and curve better.

"He had a hard slider, probably the best slider I've seen from him since he's been over here," said San Diego manager Bud Black.

After Ryu allowed Detroit seven runs on 10 hits, he gave up no runs and two hits to the Padres. After striking out two Tigers, he fanned 10 Padres. After issuing two walks, he walked none.

Gordon made the game's sole run happen. With one out in the sixth inning, he singled off Ross, stole second (No. 43) on a pitch-out and Carl Crawford walked. Puig was given a flat slider over the plate and he singled to center as Gordon scored.

It was enough to hand Ross his 10th loss. Since June 6 he is 1-6 despite a 2.83 ERA.

"That guy today, I thought he was filthy," said Mattingly.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
Read More: Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig, Hyun-Jin Ryu