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Hyun-jin Ryu splendid, but Dodgers blueprint crumbles in 3-1 loss to Padres

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

SAN DIEGO -- Hyun-jin Ryu was magnificent for a second straight start but got nothing to show for it. The Padres rallied against Brian Wilson in the eighth inning for 3-1 win at Petco Park in San Diego.

Ryu struck out seven in his seven scoreless innings, and allowed three hits and three walks. But after retiring 16 of his last 17 batters faced, Ryu was pulled after just 88 pitches. With six outs left and a 1-0 lead, manager Don Mattingly opted for the setup man Wilson in the eighth.

"It's what we want, we'll take it every night. We'd like to have a few more runs and don't leave them on the edge where you can't give up one," Mattingly said. "If your starter gives you a good seven like that, and your back end is as good as ours, you're going to feel pretty good at that point."

"With the guys we have in our bullpen, we feel great with any lead going into the late innings," said catcher A.J. Ellis.

Wilson did not record an out.

Seth Smith hit Wilson's third pitch into the right field seats to tie the game, then everything completely fell apart. After a walk, Wilson made an error on a sacrifice bunt. Then, with third baseman Juan Uribe charging in, catcher Yasmani Grandal stole his first career base, followed by Everth Cabrera taking second on defensive indifference one pitch later. Chris Denorfia made Wilson pay with a two-run single to center to put the Dodgers behind for the first time in 26 innings this season.

Wilson allowed just one run all of last season including the playoffs, totaling 19⅔ innings.

Ryu became just the fifth Los Angeles Dodger to open his season with two straight starts of five innings or more with no runs allowed, joining a list that includes teammate Clayton Kershaw, the man Ryu replaced for Sunday's start.

Ryu, who gave up 17 runs in 30 first innings in 2013 for a 5.10 ERA compared to his 2.61 ERA in all other innings, looked like he might allow an early score again on Sunday.

Cabrera walked and then, with Ryu paying extra attention to the runner, Denorfia singled to right field, advancing Cabrera to third. Denorfia took second on the high throw from right fielder Yasiel Puig that was dropped by leaping cutoff man Hanley Ramirez. One out later a walk loaded the bases, but Ryu escaped the jam thanks to a comebacker by Yonder Alonso for a 1-2 -3 inning-ending double play.

After allowing runners to reach second and third base in both the first and second innings, Ryu settled down to retire 15 straight into the seventh frame. But even when the streak was broken by a one-out walk to rookie Tommy Medica, Ryu recovered with by inducing a 3-6-3 double play on the very next pitch to end the frame.

"All four pitches were working for me tonight. I had some problems early in the game but I was able to overcome them, and that was a big confidence boost for me," Ryu said through a translator. "My curve ball and my slider, I was able to control them better today. It made my other pitches better."

But at 88 pitches, as good as he was, Ryu's night was done.

"We were kind of at our limit with him there tonight," Mattingly said. "We didn't feel like we could ask anything more of him. Maybe three or four starts more starts into [the season] maybe we'd go farther, but tonight we weren't willing to go any farther than that."

The decision was made even easier by a conversation with Ryu after the seventh.

"I noticed in the seventh inning that my ball was slowing down a little bit and I was getting a little tired, so I went up to Donnie and told him it was probably better than I come out of the game," Ryu said. "I trust our bullpen all the time."

A single and a walk set up the game's first run, in the top of the fifth inning. Carl Crawford, in his first game of the season, scored Dee Gordon from second base with a single to left field. A walk by Yasiel Puig loaded the bases with two outs, but Hanley Ramirez grounded to short to end the threat.

Though the Dodgers didn't score, they were patient enough to get starter Andrew Cashner's pitch count up, to 89 through five innings. But they never saw the benefits from that, as Cashner retired the Dodgers in order on just seven pitches in the sixth inning, followed by four Padres relievers shutting the Dodgers down. In all, San Diego pitchers retired 13 of the final 14 Dodgers batters in the game.

"It's always nice to get some breathing room. I guess that's that luxury that we feel like we have with the strength of our bullpen," Ellis lamented. "It would have been nice to have a little more separation, a little more room for error."

Record crowd

Sunday's attendance was 45,567, setting a new record for Petco Park, which opened in 2004. The previous record was 45,496 fans on April 6, 2009, also an Opening Day won by the Dodgers.

Up next

The Dodgers are off on Monday but will hold a simulated game at some point. Josh Beckett is scheduled to throw roughly 45-50 pitches, what Mattingly called a tune up. Beckett, currently on the disabled list with a right elbow contusion, is a candidate to start Saturday against the Giants. Matt Kemp, Chone Figgins and some other players will hit against Beckett on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Dodgers and Padres are back at it again with a 3:40 p.m. PT start. Zack Greinke makes his 2014 debut for the Dodgers, facing Ian Kennedy for San Diego.

Sunday particulars

Home run: Seth Smith (1)

WP - Dale Thayer (1-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

LP - Brian Wilson (0-1): 0 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk

Sv - Huston Street (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout