A three-game series with the last-place Chicago Cubs seemed to be an ideal chance for the Los Angeles Dodgers to stay hot.
Instead, they’ve looking to Hyun-jin Ryu to get them back on track.
Ryu will try to help the Dodgers bounce back from their first loss in seven games by continuing his recent success Saturday night against the Cubs.
Los Angeles (62-48) entered this series with a season-high six-game winning streak, but it ended with an 8-2 loss to the last-place Cubs (46-62).
Still, the Dodgers have won nine of the past 11 meetings with Chicago, and are turning to Ryu (12-5, 3.44 ERA) to help them widen their 2 1/2-game lead on second-place San Francisco.
The left-hander has won three straight starts behind a 2.37 ERA with 22 strikeouts and two walks in 19 innings, limiting opponents to a .186 average.
Ryu is one victory shy of moving into a tie for the most in baseball following Sunday’s 4-3 win at San Francisco. He struck out seven Giants and allowed three runs in six innings.
Ryu’s impressive stretch has been spurred by some mechanical adjustments. He changed the grip and arm angle on his slider on advice from Clayton Kershaw and also tweaked his curveball after talking with Josh Beckett, according to MLB’s official website.
"Ever since then, it’s a go-to pitch," manager Don Mattingly said of Ryu’s curve.
Ryu earned a 6-2 road win in his only career meeting with the Cubs on Aug. 2, 2013, allowing two runs while scattering 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
He’ll now face a Chicago team that’s hit .285 while winning four of five games, matching its number of victories over the previous 19.
Chris Coghlan had two hits Friday, and his .372 average since June 30 leads the NL. Luis Valbuena had a solo homer and an RBI single in the series opener, giving him two blasts and six RBIs in his past three contests.
The Cubs are giving the ball to Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1, 3.38), who will try to build on his first win in the majors. The 33-year-old rookie left-hander, a veteran of nine seasons in Japan and three in the minors, allowed one run in seven innings of a 4-1 win over Colorado on Monday.
Wada totaled nine inning over his first two starts.
"He executed pitches, got some big outs when he needed to and got out of traffic that developed late," manager Rick Renteria said. "He did a nice job and gave us some innings."
Wada may have to contend with Yasiel Puig, who is 13 for 29 with three doubles, four triples, one homer and nine runs in his last six games. The All-Star right fielder also pounds Cubs pitching, going 12 for 24 with six runs in seven meetings. However, Puig exited Friday’s loss with mild left hamstring soreness in the seventh as a precautionary measure.
That was followed by reliever Paul Maholm injuring his right knee covering first for the final out of the inning, while first baseman Adrian Gonzalez left in the third with a right knee contusion.
Dee Gordon, meanwhile, should be back in the lineup after stealing two bases Friday, giving him a major league leading 50 – the most by a Dodger since Juan Pierre had 64 in 2007.