Hyun-jin Ryu dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in his only start of last year's NL championship series, but he never got a chance at a repeat performance.
While the stakes certainly aren't as high as last fall, Ryu looks to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers rolling with another sterling performance against the Cardinals on Friday night.
Ryu (9-3, 3.06 ERA) is tied with three others - including teammate Zack Greinke - for second in the NL in wins, one back of Adam Wainwright of St. Louis and Cincinnati's Alfredo Simon.
The Cardinals (43-37) shouldn't be surprised to see the left-hander among the league leaders since he's had little trouble with them in two career starts.
Ryu was outstanding in Game 3 of the 2013 NLCS, yielding three hits in seven innings of a 3-0 win at Chavez Ravine to prevent the Dodgers (45-36) from moving to the precipice of elimination. However, Los Angeles ended up losing in six games, with Ryu scheduled to get the ball for Game 7.
That may have been a relief to St. Louis since he also dominated the club in his only regular-season meeting Aug. 8, allowing an unearned run while striking out seven in a 5-1 road victory.
Ryu enters this game with wins in six of seven starts, and he's been superb while winning his last two - allowing one run over six innings in each of those games.
"I would like to go deeper in the game but toward the end, I felt a little bit extra more fatigue," he said following Sunday's 2-1 win at San Diego, the fifth straight start where he was pulled after six innings.
Ryu has won three straight home games behind a 2.79 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, after going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA and 2.38 WHIP over the first three.
Strong pitching has keyed the Dodgers' recent success, with the rotation compiling a 2.33 ERA during a 10-3 stretch.
Josh Beckett - who lost Game 6 of the NLCS - turned in the latest gem, allowing four hits in seven innings to counter Wainwright's five-hitter in Thursday's 1-0 win in the opener of this four-game series.
Carlos Martinez (1-3, 4.33) gets the start again for the Cardinals in place of Michael Wacha, last fall's NLCS MVP who is out with a shoulder injury.
The 22-year-old right-hander allowed three runs and three hits in five innings of a 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Sunday. That came six days after he allowed an unearned run in four innings of a 6-2 win over the New York Mets after Wainwright was scratched.
"He's a tough kid mentally, so you put him in a big position - I think we saw this last fall - he's not going to scare, he's not going to rattle," manager Mike Matheny told MLB's official website. "We just need him to stay the course, trust his stuff."
Martinez, who has started only three of his 53 career games, lost opposite Ryu on Aug. 8, giving up four runs and seven hits with three walks in 4 2-3 innings.
The Associated Press News Service
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