LOS ANGELES -- With three starting pitchers injured and Julio Urias held back by management, the Dodgers have no choice but to let Hyun-Jin Ryu take his lumps.
Ryu's comeback from two years on the shelf continued on its bumpy path Tuesday night when his improved stuff couldn't compensate for punishing mistakes in a 4-3 loss to the Rockies, who barreled three homers off Ryu as the Dodgers fell below .500 for the first time this year.
"We feel comfortable with him making a start every fifth day, and as he gets into the rhythm of a season, we know he'll get better," said manager Dave Roberts. "For us, the barometer for Ryu is the delivery repeating, holding velocity, which he's doing, and executing pitches. He's made some mistakes that were hit out of the ballpark. If he minimizes damage, he'll be fine."
"It's still quite difficult the fact that I gave up three home runs, but the pitch count and innings are definitely positive signs," said Ryu.
Nolan Arenado homered in the first and fifth innings, Trevor Story went deep in the fourth, accounting for all four of Colorado's runs. Ryu has allowed six homers in only 15 1/3 innings. And even though he struck out seven and lasted six innings for the first time, he might be on shaky ground for his next start, except that Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir and Brock Stewart are unavailable and the Urias lab experiment is still in the trial phase.
"With Ryu, he's still coming back," said Roberts. "To expect him to be locked in right now might be a little unfair. We just feel comfortable with his fastball command. The velocity was up tonight. It will get there. Look at the full body of work, it's three pitches that hurt him.
"He's given up six homers, all on fastballs, just missed location. Today, Nolan is their best player, he tried to come in with the fastball, it leaked over the plate and down and that's his nitro zone and he put a swing on it. Story is a good fastball hitter, he tried to elevate, missed down and the same thing. If we eliminate the slug, he pitched a heck of a ballgame and gave us the much-needed length we were looking for. Ryu will be fine, it's just eliminating the long ball."
Colorado manager Bud Black said this about Ryu: "I think he's going to throw well this year. He looks like he's healthy. He's got weapons. He's a strike thrower."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.