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Dodgers want Ryu to take ball and run with it vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts understood when Hyun-Jin Ryu was pacing himself during spring training after making just one start last year because of shoulder and elbow injuries. But Roberts said it's time for Ryu to let loose.

"I want to encourage him to go as hard as he can for as long as he can," Roberts said. "He really tries to feel his way through a game. Sometimes games can be won or lost in the first inning. Physically, he's fine."

Ryu will make his 11th start of the year on Saturday afternoon against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

It's his second straight start against the Reds after allowing four runs and six hits in four innings in a 9-7 win at Dodgers Stadium on Sunday.

"He was trying to pace himself too much for me," Roberts said. "Two starts ago, he was going to empty the gas tank. I want to see more of that."

Ryu is 2-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 11 appearances, including 10 starts. In four career starts against Cincinnati, he has gone 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA and has struck out 26 with just three walks in 24 1/3 innings.

"I think in spring training he was trying to protect his shoulder," Roberts said. "I just want to encourage him to be as aggressive as he was two starts ago."

Roberts wants all of his starters to take this approach, particularly against a Reds team that leads the National League in stolen bases and has homered in 22 of its past 25 games.

Cincinnati (29-37) has lost seven straight after climbing within a game of .500. Still, they aren't exactly out of it in a tight NL Central division with the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals performing below expectations.

"No one has pulled away in the division yet," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The way our division is going, you don't want to slip, especially while we're trying to get our rotation back. We'd like to be in a position in July where we're looking at adding pieces. You can't afford to let yourself get too far back. We've been up-and-down so much this year that it doesn't feel like a death spiral."

Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski starts for the Reds on Saturday and also is facing the Dodgers for the second straight game. Last Saturday, Wojciechowski allowed four earned runs and six hits, including a homer, through five innings and 81 pitches. He's the sixth rookie pitcher to start games for the Reds this season.

LA (42-26) is looking to continue its dominance of Cincinnati in the past three seasons.

According to Stats LLC, since the 2015 season, the Dodgers' 15-3 overall record against the Reds ranks the third best in the National League among NL matchups, trailing only the New York Mets' 13-0 record against Cincinnati and the Colorado Rockies' 12-2 mark against the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers have won six consecutive games against the Reds, including a three-game sweep last weekend at Dodger Stadium. LA has won the season series with Cincinnati for the fourth consecutive year after clinching it with Friday's 3-1 victory.

Los Angeles now is 17-6 against the NL Central this year.

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