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Blanton impressive, but Angels held to just two hits

In final outing of his strong spring, righty blanks Dodgers for six innings

Blanton impressive, but Angels held to just two hits
ANAHEIM -- Hyun-Jin Ryu and Joe Blanton each breezed through their final spring tuneups and the Angels were limited to just two hits, losing the Freeway Series opener to the Dodgers, 3-0, in front of 30,235 at Angel Stadium on Thursday night.

Ryu hurled four perfect innings, striking out four and setting an early tone for Dodgers pitchers four days before Opening Day.

Signed out of Korea to a six-year, $36 million contract, Ryu showed up for his first Major League Spring Training out of shape and at one point seemed in danger of not cracking the rotation. But the 26-year-old left-hander finished with a 3.29 ERA in 27 1/3 innings and, as a result of Zack Greinke's elbow injury and Chad Billingsley's finger bruise, opens the season as the Dodgers' No. 2 starter.

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"There was a lot of talk in the very beginning about whether I would perform or not," Ryu said through a translator. "I was a little anxious and a little nervous. But as the game went on those feelings went away and I'm happy that I ended camp on a good note. It's a good cross over to the regular season."

Blanton, signed to a two-year, $15 million contract in December, put the finishing touches on a spring that was the best of anyone in the Angels' rotation, giving up five hits through six scoreless innings while striking out four and walking none.

Blanton's spring ERA was 2.37, and he didn't walk a batter in 19 innings.

What does it mean to him to have a good spring?

"Nothing, really," Blanton said. "I go more off of how my command is, how I feel physically and mechanically and how my pitches are working, not necessarily the results."

The Angels were hitless until Alberto Callaspo led off the sixth with a single and failed to do much of anything, despite leaving Arizona with the third-most Spring Training runs in the Majors. Josh Hamilton went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first home game with the Angels.

Mark Lowe, released by the Dodgers on Sunday and vying for the last bullpen spot on the Angels, put his former team on the board in the seventh, giving up an RBI single to backup catcher Tim Federowicz. The Dodgers added a couple more runs off Angels prospect Austin Wood in the eighth, on an RBI triple by Matt Kemp and an ensuing sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

"Really we had some hits early and we didn't get any runs; those kind of games can come back and get you usually," Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly said of Thursday's game. "But we were able to scratch a few out."

The Angels and Dodgers have met 111 times in this Spring Training Freeway Series, with the Angels winning 61 of those games. The two clubs -- both coming into 2013 with fat payrolls, star-laden rosters and grand expectations -- will meet four times during the regular season, at Dodger Stadium on May 27 and 28 and at Angel Stadium on May 29 and 30.

Up next: With National League rules in play at Dodger Stadium on Friday, in the second of a three-game Freeway Series leading up to the regular season, the Angels figure to sport their Opening Day lineup for Cincinnati. On the mound, though, it'll be lefty Jason Vargas, making his final start of the spring and coming off hurling six innings of one-run ball against the Giants on Sunday. Right-hander Josh Beckett will oppose him. The 7:10 p.m. PT game will be broadcast on MLB.TV.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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