LOS ANGELES (AP) - The game within the game was a highly anticipated showdown between South Korean countrymen Chin-Soo Choo and Hyun-Jin Ryu in their first confrontation in the major leagues.
Choo, the Cincinnati Reds' center fielder, walked his first time up before grounding out to first base and striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers' left-hander. Ryu held the Reds to just two hits Saturday night, including a home run by Jay Bruce, in a 4-1 victory punctuated by Skip Schumaker's tiebreaking two-run homer against Bronson Arroyo.
It was the 300th home run given up Arroyo (9-8), including a career-high and major league-worst 46 in 2011. The 14-year veteran right-hander was charged with three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, after going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his previous six starts against Los Angeles. He was coming off a complete-game 11-0 victory at San Francisco on Monday.
``This is not an easy lineup to navigate through, and they were hitting him pretty good,' Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ``But it wasn't about how Bronson looked. It was how Ryu made us look. We didn't score any runs other than Jay's home run and we managed only two hits.'
It wasn't difficult for Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis to notice before the game how much Ryu's preparation was intensified by Choo's appearance at the top of the Reds' lineup.
``He was very serious before the game, very intense,' Ellis said. ``I mean, he's usually very quiet before he pitches, but more so today. I'm sure Choo was on his mind. I mean, it's a big deal. Choo is one of his best friends and one of his baseball idols. So with him facing him in America in an atmosphere like this, and also playing in front of a huge TV audience back in Korea, it's pretty neat to know you're a part of that. It was really cool to seer those guys match up. You could hear the crowd on every pitch and every swing.'
Ryu (9-3) had nine strikeouts, all in a span of 13 batters. The first came against Joey Votto, who took a called third strike after Chris Heisey hit his first triple of the season with two out in the third.
``That's the first time we've seen Ryu, and he looked pretty good,' Baker said. ``He had a great changeup, threw an occasional breaking ball, and his fastball looked even faster after the changeup.'
The Dodgers opened the scoring in the first on a two-out double by Hanley Ramirez, but the Reds tied it in the second when Bruce drove Ryu's 2-0 pitch into the right field pavilion for his 22nd home run. Since the start of the 2010 season, Bruce leads all left-handed batters with 42 homer against lefty pitchers - including eight this season.
``I think it's helped him being around Joey Votto, and seeing how Joey hits lefties,' Baker said. ``Most guys, I think, have trouble with lefties because they don't see them (enough). I mean, it's hard enough to find a right-handed batting practice pitcher that can throw strikes - and it's almost impossible to find a lefty to do it. But we've got two of them - Mark Berry and Ronnie Ortegon. And we always travel with one, so I think that helps a lot.
``That's something that Barry Bonds always did in San Francisco,' added Baker, who watched Bonds homer 125 times against lefties during the 10 seasons he managed baseball's career home run leader. ``We always had a left-hander throwing to Barry in batting practice. So I took a page out of Barry's book, and I'd like to give Barry credit for that.'
Bruce, the Reds' right fielder, also threw out Yasiel Puig at first base in the fifth after the overaggressive rookie made a wide turn on his single toward the line. The play immediately followed Schumaker's homer. It was catcher Devin Mesoraco who made it possible, hustling up the line and taking the throw at the bag.
``It looked like a great play, which is was. But that's what he's supposed to do,' Baker said. ``He's supposed to follow the runner down to first - not that everybody does it all the time. But Puig keeps you on your toes with his hustle, and it brings out the best in you.'
In Thursday night's series opener, Puig made a similar wide turn around first on a single to center and ended up at third base after Choo threw the ball past first baseman Joey Votto and the ball ended up in the stands for a two-base error.
Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford, who made a brief visit to an emergency room on Saturday to get checked on for a high temperature, was held out of the lineup. Manager Don Mattingly replaced him with Schumaker, who came in with more plate appearances (53) and hits (18) against Arroyo than anyone else on Los Angeles' roster.
Schumaker came through in the fifth, driving Arroyo's 1-0 pitch to center field for his second home run of the season and a 3-1 Dodgers lead after a leadoff single by Mark Ellis.
``Skip's battled me hard for years,' Arroyo said. ``We just went down and away with a hard pitch. I thought he would be trying to pull the ball to get a guy on second base, but he stayed right through it and hit it to dead-center. I really didn't think Skip had that kind of pop in him, but he did today.'
Kenley Jansen got the last three outs for his 14th save, helping the Dodgers increase their NL West lead to 1 1/2 games over Arizona.
NOTES: Arroyo has given up a franchise-record 238 home runs since joining the Reds in a March 2006 trade from Boston for Wily Mo Pena. ... Reds RHP Jonathan Broxton, on the disabled list since June 15 with an elbow strain, threw 20 pitches during early batting practice. But Baker was noncommittal when asked about the best-case scenario for the former Dodger closer's return. ... Votto's consecutive game on-base streak ended at 38 after he went 0 for 3. That left Ramirez with the longest active streak in the majors at 35.
The Associated Press News Service
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