The Angels did it again to the Dodgers on Tuesday night, erupting with two away in the seventh inning for four hits and three runs in forging a 6-3 victory, their fourth in a row over the Dodgers, in front of 41,595 at Angel Stadium.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Howard Kendrick's RBI single and Kevin Frandsen's two-run double were the latest of the late strikes against the Dodgers. Nineteen of the Angels' past 26 runs against the other L.A. club have come with two away.
"Two out and nobody on, and they score three runs," mused Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "That was a backbreaker."
The beneficiary on this occasion was Ervin Santana, who moved to 7-5 with seven sturdy innings, Brian Fuentes notching his 11th save after Fernando Rodney got through a turbulent eighth thanks to a brilliant double play started by shortstop Brandon Wood and turned by Kendrick at second.
Clayton Kershaw fell to 7-4 after holding the Angels to two hits before Bobby Abreu tied it with a three-run homer to center, his eighth, in the sixth.
"Even though it's two outs and you might have runners in scoring position, you have to remember your approach and stick with it," said Kendrick, the RBI machine with 27 in his past 25 games and 47 for the season. "Sometimes it pays to be lucky."
Kendrick's third hit of the night, a two-out single to right, gave the Angels the lead against right-hander Ronald Belisario.
Frandsen followed with a shot into the left-field corner on an 0-2 pitch that eluded former Angels star Garret Anderson in an area he knows as well as anyone.
"Belisario is filthy," Kendrick said. "His sinker is ridiculous. You want a pitch out over the plate, and it felt good just to make contact."
The two telling blows came after singles by Jeff Mathis and Wood had ended Kershaw's night. The Angels seemingly had run themselves out of the inning when Juan Rivera, after doubling and getting balked to third by Kershaw, was caught moving too far down the line by catcher Russell Martin for the second out.
"That's a huge momentum swing," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But you have to keep playing baseball, and that's what we did. We got some clutch two-out hits."
With one swing, Abreu had brought the Angels even, his three-run homer carrying over the center-field wall.
"It was a good pitch, a [94 mph] fastball middle in," Abreu said. "I was ready for it and I crushed that one. A guy like that, you want to make him work, throw some pitches early in the game. I think we did that."
Torre felt the impact of Abreu's blow.
"But it's all about how we handle and restore order," Torre said. "Back-to-back three-run innings.
"If we turn it around, we don't expect anybody to hand it to us. We've got to earn what we get. If we're going to be good enough to win the division and get to the postseason, we have to fight our way out of this."
Santana held the Dodgers to three earned runs on eight hits and two walks, striking out six.
"Ervin did a good job of minimizing damage," Scioscia said.
The Dodgers, swept at home by the Angels from June 11-13, have lost five straight.
"Right now, we're getting whooped," Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. "We better fix something."
The Dodgers threatened in the eighth with two on and none out against Rodney after Anderson's single and Frandsen's error at third.
But Wood's diving stab of Kemp's grounder and sprawling glove flip created a double play turned by Kendrick with Casey Blake bearing down on him.
"Brandon and I played together for three years in the Minor Leagues," Kendrick said. "I know how he plays. I was telling him, 'Get it here.' He flipped it out of his glove and got something on it so I had some momentum to get the throw off.
"Blake's a big guy and he came in hard. I can respect that. He got me in their place, too. I extended my shoulder on the throw, but it's OK."
Rodney, who escaped on Torii Hunter's running catch of Blake DeWitt's drive to center, was ejected by home-plate umpire Bill Welke as he walked off the mound.
The Dodgers scored twice in the third on three singles and a walk. Santana left two stranded when he caught Anderson with a third-strike fastball on the inside corner.
"Garret knows we know him," Santana said. "He can turn on that inside fastball, so I think maybe we surprised him with that. It was the biggest of the game, I think.
"I had to use everything I had. I had 77 pitches in four innings, so to make it through seven innings wasn't easy."
Kemp's homer to right center in the fourth, his 12th, handed Kershaw a three-run lead. He walked Wood leading off the sixth and yielded a single to Kendrick. With one away, Abreu unloaded to center for his eighth homer.
"This one we had and I let it get away," Kershaw said. "We had a lead, and I've got to make it hold up. It's just my fault.
"This game humbles you fast. Our team has the ability to be good. It's a matter of putting it together."
Holding the Dodgers to 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, Santana snapped a two-game losing spin. He put away eight of the last nine hitters he faced.
"My rhythm was much better tonight than the last two games," he said.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.