LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hyun-Jin Ryu was all but untouchable in May.
His final start of the month was no different Thursday night as the left-hander pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning of his latest dominant outing, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-0 win over the New York Mets.
Chris Taylor tripled off hard-luck loser Jason Vargas to start the bottom of the first and scored when Max Muncy followed with a double. That was all the offense for either team until Kiké Hernández singled home an insurance run with two outs in the eighth.
Ryu (8-1) struck out seven and walked one in 7 2/3 innings, lowering his major league-best ERA to 1.48. Kenley Jansen got four outs for his 16th save as the NL West leaders took three of four in the series.
Ryu went 5-0 in six May starts with a 0.59 ERA, 36 strikeouts and just three walks.
“The month of May was incredible,” he said through a translator. “I’ve always told everyone how I wanted to do my job as a starting pitcher, meaning I wanted to throw six to seven innings and put the team in a position where we can win. I’ve always said that, but I haven’t necessarily executed the way I wanted. This month of May I was able to do that. I do feel that’s unbelievable.”
Ryu’s 0.59 ERA is the lowest by a Dodgers starter in any month since Clayton Kershaw had a 0.27 ERA in July 2015.
Ryu, who was greeted by a standing ovation, has 69 strikeouts and only five walks in 11 games. He has won his last eight starts at home, and fans rewarded him with adoration.
Asked if Ryu is his ace, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said: “We have a lot of aces. Hyun-Jin is throwing the ball really well. Tonight you look at where we were at as far as the ‘pen and needing him to go deep into the game and he knew that and he executed and did that. Just his feel, I say every time he starts, and his ability to execute pitches, change speeds, work to all zones, get soft contact, get seven punches, one walk. Worked quick. Keeps defense involved. We needed Hyun-Jin and he answered the bell once again.”
Los Angeles, which boasts the top record in the National League at 38-19, has won 16 of the past 19 matchups with the Mets.
With one out in the ninth, Pete Alonso was awarded first base on a hit by pitch even though replays showed the ball hit his bat and not his hand or forearm. Alonso even returned to home plate and waited with his lumber in hand as the play was reviewed, yet the call on the field was upheld.
Sent back to first base, Alonso chuckled a bit as he chatted with David Freese.
Jansen then struck out Todd Frazier, who threw his bat wildly at a ball in the dirt, and retired Carlos Gomez on a harmless fly to end it.
Vargas, a California native, allowed just one run and six hits in a season-high seven innings that mostly spared a taxed Mets bullpen. He needed 26 pitches to get through the first, but settled in after that. Vargas (1-3) struck out six and walked three — two in the first inning.
“I think just effectively pitching down,” he said. “That’s key for me in general, but after the first couple innings got settled and worked out a couple issues with guys on second base. I think it was just a matter of pitching down and expanding.”
Ryu didn’t run into trouble until the seventh when Alonso hit a leadoff double. The left-hander retired the next three batters with ease, two via groundouts.
Taylor’s leadoff triple was a sinking liner that got under the glove and past a charging J.D. Davis as he made a dive for the ball in left field.
Hernandez’s jam-shot single in the eighth off Hector Santiago scored Freese, who doubled and finished with two hits.
With two outs and a runner on in the eighth, Jansen entered and struck out pinch-hitter Dominic Smith, reacting with a fist pump.
But it was Ryu who was the star of the game once again.
“He mixes it up better than I’ve seen in a long time,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “There’s no pattern whatsoever. He drives his arm through every pitch and sells everything, whether it’s a changeup, curveball. He gets through it.”
The Mets fell to 12-22 away from home and are 2-7-1 in road series.
Callaway verbalized his suspicion that the Dodgers were stealing signs after Wednesday’s game in a New York Post report. Asked to respond to the accusation, Roberts said: “I think, for us, we feel that we go up there and play 27 outs every night the best way we can. If we come up short, it’s a combo that we didn’t play well and giving the other team credit. I guess if they feel differently about the quality of at-bats we put up against these guys was not as a result of our talent and preparation, then that’s their decision. I can’t change their thoughts.”
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (hamstring) felt a little tightness in his hamstring when he scored in the ninth inning Wednesday night. He was given Thursday off but was available off the bench. … LHP Tony Cingrani (shoulder) has still not been cleared for baseball activities after having his shoulder re-evaluated.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (4-3, 4.63 ERA) pitches Friday night in Arizona. He has 41 strikeouts in five May starts but a 4.19 ERA during that span.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (6-2, 3.67) takes the ball at home against Philadelphia. He has won his last three starts.
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