LOS ANGELES - Dodgers southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu was hard to solve and Corey Seager blasted a grand slam Sunday in a 6-0 shutout of the Nationals.
The left-hander did not allow a base hit until the eighth inning, thanks to another gritty at-bat from veteran Gerardo Parra. Seager put the game away with his second career grand slam in the eighth. The Nats were held to that Parra double.
Brian Dozier earned the only walk off of Ryu, but finished 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against his former teammate.
“He didn’t throw too many fastballs, he relied on his cutter and his changeup,” Dozier said. “The only time I saw a fastball was with two strikes. I think he just got people off balance. Had people start sitting on off-speed, kept nibbling away and then blew it by them inside corner on a fastball. He did a really good job of that today.”
Ryu (5-1) has now thrown 24 scoreless frames, going 2-0 with five hits allowed in 17 innings at Dodger Stadium during their homestand.
“He was good. He used both sides of the plate,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “Kept us off balance. I know he’s thrown a lot of consecutive shutout innings. He was good. He was around the plate. We couldn’t really get anything going.”
Martinez watched as Ryu’s pitch count started to elevate. He hoped that would help his team find a way to rally as the Dodgers attempted to get their lefty to a no-hitter. Ryu fired 116 pitches, 79 for strikes.
“You go up there and you try pretty much to stay up the middle,” Martinez said. “You got to grind at-bats. For a while there his pitch count started to get up but when he’s on like that and he can throw strikes both sides of the plate and keep us off balance, he pitched well.”
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (3-3) kept close to Ryu for most of the start, and appeared to have the Nats first base hit of the day in the top of the sixth.
His grounder reached Cody Bellinger, but the right fielder was able to fire the ball to first base in time to nab Strasburg. A replay challenge by the Nats confirmed the call. Strasburg has had that play tried on him during previous base hits.
“It’s happened before, I’ve just beat it out before,” Strasburg said. “Sometimes because I hit it too hard I just know that they’re going to press especially with me in the box, they’re going to try to make a play. I just didn’t get there in time.”
Saturday’s hero Parra connected on a 1-1 Ryu pitch for a ground-rule double to the opposite field with one out in the eighth to break up the no-hit bid.
“He had a good at-bat,” Martinez said. “Early in the game he smoked a ball to second and then he got a ball up, out over the plate. He hit a good ball to left-center field.”
The Nats had one more opportunity to get on the board in that eighth down 2-0. With Parra on second thanks to their lone hit and two outs, Michael A. Taylor fought off several Ryu offerings to run the count to 3-2 on a 10-pitch at-bat.
After falling behind 0-2, Taylor worked the count full. The center fielder fouled off four pitches, two changeups and two four-seam fastballs before finally flying out to left field to end the chance.
Martinez did not second guess using Taylor in that spot and not going to a pinch-hitter.
“Here’s the deal. When a guy is on like that, and you faced him three times, you want to get him because he has seen him already,” Martinez said. “He put on a really good at-bat. Yeah, I like Michael right there. A guy that comes off the bench and sees him for the first time, you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
A walk to Bellinger aided in the Dodgers first run off of Strasburg in the second. Seager delivered an RBI sacrifice fly and Alex Verdugo a groundout scored another run in the fourth.
The Nats right-hander lasted six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 97 pitches, 67 for strikes. He left with his team down only 2-0.
Ryu certainly was the difference, coming within five outs of a no-hitter. Dozier remembered seeing what Ryu could do last season when he spent a couple of months with the Dodgers.
“In his last couple of starts he kind of showed that he is on,” Dozier said. “Since he’s been in the big leagues he’s always been tough to hit. Not an overpowering guy by any means. Mixes his pitches really, really well, both sides of the plate. Does a really good job, competes. I got to know Ryu last year. He gets on the mound, he’s a competitor. Goof ball off the field but competitor on.”
The Nats bullpen struggled in the eighth. Kyle Barraclough hit Justin Turner with a pitch, gave up a single to Bellinger and walked Verdugo to load the bases with no outs. Pitching coach Paul Menhart paid Barraclough a mound visit.
That did not help. Seager unloaded on a 2-1 pitch for a grand slam to put the game away. Dodgers led 6-0.
The Nats were unable to secure a series win, something that has alluded them since April 18. And now the Nats end up splitting the four games in Los Angeles and head home after a 3-7 road trip. The Nationals were shutout twice in the series and three times in their last six games. But Martinez sees positives in the two wins the club earned at Dodger Stadium and likes having Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto back in the lineup as they head home.
“We got some guys back this road trip,” Martinez said. “Our lineup gets a little length now. Our starting pitchers are pitching well. We see signs of our bullpen pitching well. We go home, we got a day off tomorrow, regroup and let’s come back Tuesday and win Tuesday.”