PITTSBURGH — Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts likes to joke any issues surrounding his team are “high class” problems. The kind every other club in the majors would love to have.
The latest? Maybe too many effective starting pitchers.
A night after Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the 10th, Hyun-Jin Ryu worked six effective innings and the Dodgers pulled away late for a 5-2 victory on Thursday, their 90th win of the season.
Ryu allowed one run and four hits with two walks and two strikeouts to improve to 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA since June 17.
“This guy is a competitor,” Roberts said. “We talked about it last night that on the heels of what Rich did last night, he was going to try to match it. And you could just see that focus. He’s a big game pitcher. He’s trying to earn continued opportunities. You respect that.”
Like Hill, Ryu’s role in the postseason is still uncertain. Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood figure to be the top three, likely sending Hill and Ryu to the bullpen. Not that Ryu is concerned about it. Considering how injuries have dogged him through 2015 and 2016, he’s simply happy to be back throwing strikes. If he does it as a reliever in the playoffs, so be it.
“As a starting pitcher, you just want to put your team in position to win,” Ryu said. “I believe in doing my job and that decision, that’s not something I can control.”
Curtis Granderson drilled his third home run in six games since joining the Dodgers and Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning to give the bullpen breathing room. Brandon Morrow worked the ninth for his first save since May 10, 2009 when he was in Seattle. Roberts gave All-Star closer Kenley Jansen a “paid vacation” day off.
Los Angeles upped its record to a major-league best 90-36, becoming the 12th team in big-league history to reach the 90-win plateau in 126 games.
“With us today, there were a lot of things that we’re used to doing,” Roberts said.
Chad Kuhl (6-8) struggled with his command, walking five in just four innings. Jordy Mercer hit an RBI double but it wasn’t enough for the struggling Pirates, who have dropped nine of 12 to fall well back in the NL Central.
“There were some nice sequences (from Kuhl), but not enough of them,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh inning. “He was disconnected. He had nothing to go to, to stay with.”
A night after leaving 11 men on base, a key factor in Hill’s valiant but ultimately fruitless pursuit of history, the Dodgers stranded 15. Still, they got five across.
Taylor singled home Hernandez in the second to give Los Angeles the lead. Granderson put the Dodgers ahead to stay with a drive over the seats in right off Kuhl to make it 2-1. Hernandez added an RBI single off reliever Steven Brault to push the advantage to 3-1.
Adam Frazier’s RBI single off former Pirate closer Tony Watson in the seventh drew the Pirates back within one but Los Angeles reliever Pedro Baez struck out Andrew McCutchen with the tying run on second. Pittsburgh left nine men on base and went 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Grandal greeted Pittsburgh rookie reliever Angel Sanchez to the majors by hitting his 18th of the season and Adrian Gonzalez followed on the next pitch by homering to nearly the same spot for his second of the season and his 100th with the Dodgers.
KANG TO DOMINICAN?
The Pirates are hoping to land third baseman Jung Ho Kang a spot in the Dominican League this fall. Kang hasn’t played this season due to visa problems after being arrested and later convicted on DUI charges in his native South Korea during the offseason. Kang is currently on the team’s restricted list. The Dominican League starts in late October and runs through December.
Dodgers: Kershaw (lower back strain) traveled to Dallas on Thursday and will get to spend a day in his hometown on Friday before heading north to make a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. The three-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched since leaving a victory over Atlanta on July 23 after two innings.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli (left wrist inflammation) was eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list on Thursday but the team decided to put him through a workout instead and will re-evaluate his situation on Friday.
Dodgers: Return home to welcome Milwaukee for a three-game series starting Friday. Kenta Maeda (11-5, 3.88) is 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA over his last 10 starts.
Pirates: Start a six-game road trip on Friday in Cincinnati. Ivan Nova (11-10, 3.81 ERA) is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA against the Reds this season.