LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' turnaround over the past month has been led by big names and aided by role players.
That was the case again on Saturday, as Skip Schumaker clubbed a two-run homer and Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated on the mound to push the Dodgers past the Reds, 4-1, at a sold-out Dodger Stadium.
Schumaker's homer to center in the fifth inning broke a 1-1 tie, sending the Dodgers to their eighth win in nine games following the All-Star break. Los Angeles improved to 25-6 since June 22, the best record in the Major Leagues during that span, and extended its lead over Arizona in the National League West to 1 1/2 games with the D-backs' loss to the Padres.
"I've always thought about hitting a home run in Dodger Stadium," said Schumaker, who grew up a Dodgers fan in nearby Torrance, Calif. "That's kind of a surreal feeling. To think about that growing up and to actually do it is incredible."
It was the second homer in four games for Schumaker, doubling his output from a season ago. Before this week, the utility man had gone 78 games this year without a homer. He was in the lineup Saturday only because left fielder Carl Crawford was unavailable due to a high fever that sent him to the emergency room earlier in the day.
"Our bench guys take a lot of pride in those spot starts," Schumaker said. "We try to do something to help the team. You try to produce as much as you can."
Schumaker also doubled and scored an insurance run in the seventh on a single by Adrian Gonzalez, who leads the Dodgers with 65 RBIs.
Ryu gave the Dodgers another great start, striking out nine over seven innings of one-run ball. Ryu allowed just two hits, including a home run by Jay Bruce in the second. The rookie left-hander improved to 9-3 with his 15th quality start in 20 outings.
Ryu got the best of South Korean countryman Shin-Soo Choo, who faced him for the first time in their careers. Choo was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout against Ryu. They were teammates in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2010 Asian Games, and are two of the best players to come out of South Korea.
"I was definitely more nervous than a usual game," Ryu said through translator Martin Kim. "It was my first time facing Choo and I can't deny that it was on my mind."
The game was broadcast live in South Korea to a viewing audience of approximately 18.5 million households. Ryu has been at his best in big games this season, and Saturday was no different.
"It was probably one of his better performances tonight," manager Don Mattingly said. "He had a little extra on his fastball. He was excited about the matchup and everything. I expected him to really be good. He seems to rise to the occasion all the time."
Yasiel Puig's aggressive baserunning and Hanley Ramirez's bat manufactured a run in the first inning. Puig drew a rare walk and took second on a flyout by Gonzalez to right field. The rookie stole third with two outs and Ramirez brought him home with a double.
Ramirez has been on a tear to start the second half, hitting .375 with four doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored. The shortstop has reached base in 35 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Majors.
The Reds answered in the second, though, as Bruce led off with a home run to right. It was Bruce's second homer of the series and his 22nd on the season. Ryu has allowed three homers in his past two starts at Dodger Stadium after giving up three in his previous eight outings at home.
But Ryu settled in and retired 21 of the next 22 batters he faced, including 13 straight to conclude his outing.
"It's definitely the best he's been in the last couple weeks," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He was definitely amped up for this game. There was definitely some juice out there on the field and you could feel it when he was throwing. He was dominant and everything was working. He was pretty special tonight."
While Ryu had extra life on his fastball, his breaking balls were sharper than his last outing and he recorded the majority of his strikeouts with his slider.
"He used all of his pitches and really after the first time through the lineup, he didn't use his fastball at all against left-handers, anyway," Bruce said. "He did a good job and kept us off-balance. He's had a nice season and he pitched well tonight."
Puig ran into an out in the fifth after taking a wide turn at first base on a single to right. Bruce threw behind Puig to the bag, where catcher Devin Mesoraco tagged him out. On a similar play on Thursday, Puig drew a throw from center field that bounced into the photo well, which advanced him to third. But Puig was not as fortunate this time.
Regardless, Puig had another multihit game, his 22nd in 47 career big league games.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.