Staked to an early four-run lead, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu was in ideal position to earn his third major league win and help the Los Angeles Dodgers end their longest losing streak of the season.
Unfortunately for Ryu and the Dodgers, the South Korean rookie couldn't maintain the advantage. He allowed two home runs — more than in his previous three starts combined — and Los Angeles ended up losing to the Baltimore Orioles 7-5 Saturday in the opener of a split-doubleheader.
Ryu gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six. Although the 26-year-old didn't take the loss, he felt compelled to apologize for his performance after the game.
"I can't really make any excuses. I wish the outcome was better," he said through a translator. "But I'll come back and do better next time. I'll just consider it a big learning experience."
The game was a makeup of Friday night's rainout. This is the Dodgers' only visit to Baltimore this season, and only their second trip to Charm City since the 1966 World Series.
Los Angeles used a three-run homer by Andre Ethier and a sacrifice fly by Mark Ellis to go up 4-0 in the second inning. But the Orioles rallied to hand the Dodgers their fifth straight defeat — the team's longest skid since a seven-game slide last June.
It wasn't all Ryu's fault.
With the score tied at 5 in the eighth, Chris Davis hit a one-out double off Paco Rodriguez (0-1) and Ronald Belisario walked J.J. Hardy on four pitches. After a passed ball and an intentional walk loaded the bases, Nolan Reimold sliced an opposite-field double down the right field line to score two runs.
"It looked like a pretty good pitch, actually," manager Don Mattingly said. "He goes down and away from him there. You're looking to get a groundball, (Reimold) is looking to get the ball up."
Belisario sat motionless at his locker long after the game. He's issued six walks, 11 hits and four runs in 7 1-3 innings this season.
When he finally spoke to reporters, Belisario said, "I feel good. I have to get ready for our next game, forget about it. That's the past."
Darren O'Day (2-0) got two outs in the eighth and Jim Johnson worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Hardy homered and drove in three runs for the Orioles, and Davis had three hits and scored three runs. Baltimore starter Jason Hammel also went six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.
Baltimore went ahead 5-4 with a two-run sixth. Matt Wieters singled and Davis doubled before Hardy hit a sacrifice fly and Steve Pearce followed with an RBI single.
Los Angeles used a walk, a single by Matt Kemp and a wild pitch to pull even in the seventh against Pedro Strop, whose ERA ballooned to 11.81.
After Mark Ellis and Kemp singled with one out in the first inning, Hammel retired cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez on a fly to left. As soon as Ethier connected with the next pitch, there was no doubt where it was headed. The drive was the 67th in the history of Camden Yards to land on Eutaw Street beyond the right field wall.
The homer doubled Ethier's RBI total for the season and upped his career batting average against Hammel to .375 (9 for 24).
A single by Justin Sellers, a double by Carl Crowford and a fly ball by Ellis made it 4-0 in the second.
Coming into the game, left-handers were 0 for 13 against Ryu. But the first two lefties he faced got singles — Nick Markakis in the first inning and Davis in the second ahead of Hardy's homer to left.
Reimold's second home run in two games made it 4-3 in the fourth. Los Angeles loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth before Hammel struck out former Oriole Ramon Hernandez.
NOTES: Orioles manager Buck Showalter would have preferred to play Friday night, but a relentless rain prevented it from happening. "We wanted to play. Doubleheaders are not good anytime, especially when you're playing 20 days in a row," Showalter said ... Los Angeles fell to 5-2 against Baltimore in interleague play and 17-50 in AL ballparks since 2005. ... Gonzalez, who came in 7 for 14 with runners in scoring position, went 0 for 2 in that situation and stranded four. ... Markakis has at least one hit in 14 of his 16 games.