Angels 6, Dodgers 5
A few hours before the Los Angeles Angels left on a daunting
14-game road trip two weeks ago, slugger Kendry Morales broke his
leg while jumping on home plate.
That already-infamous pratfall hardly seemed to be a good omen –
yet the Angels have barely made a misstep since, and they capped
their remarkable odyssey with a little bit of history in their
crosstown rivals’ famous park.
Hideki Matsui had three hits and drove in two runs, Jered Weaver
pitched into the seventh inning and the Angels swept an interleague
Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium for the first time with a 6-5
victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
Mike Napoli hit an eighth-inning homer for the Angels, who
improved to a season-best six games over .500 at 36-30 with their
10th win in 12 games, staying just a half-game behind first-place
Texas in the AL West.
All that travel has turned around a slow-starting season for the
Angels, who wrapped up their road work with 11 wins, the
franchise’s most on a single trip since 1962.
“Winning cures everything, and we’re doing a lot of it,” said
Torii Hunter, who hit his 10th homer. “We were actually talking
about wearing our grays tomorrow (at home against Milwaukee). I
don’t know if that’s illegal or what. We want to act like we’re
still on the road. I might keep my bags packed.”
James Loney drove in three runs with two late doubles for the
Dodgers, connecting against Kevin Jepsen in the seventh and
Fernando Rodney in the eighth to trim the Angels’ lead to a run.
But closer Brian Fuentes capped the bullpen’s rocky performance
with his 10th save, getting speedy Rafael Furcal to ground into a
game-ending double play.
“We always saw the potential for us to play better,” Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. “You’d like to see it a little cleaner
(in the late innings), but they held the lead, that’s the bottom
line. (The Dodgers) hit some good pitches. That double play in the
ninth, I don’t think you’ll see a better turn than what Howie
(Kendrick) did at second base.”
Furcal hit a leadoff homer before stranding four runners in the
final three innings for the Dodgers, who were swept at home for the
first time since Houston did it in May 2008.
Manny Ramirez had two long doubles among his three hits for the
Dodgers, who were on a remarkable 24-8 roll until running into
their freeway foes this weekend. After ending their longest
homestand of the season with eight wins in 13 games, they’ll meet
the Angels again in nine days in Anaheim.
“Is it incomprehensible for us to get swept at home? No,” said
outfielder Andre Ethier, who went 0 for 4. “I mean, if you go out
and play like that, you’re going to get swept. They picked up
runners when they had an opportunity, and we didn’t. It’s as simple
as that. That team is very good at getting the momentum to swing
their way and using it to their advantage.”
After Furcal’s second homer of the season off the screen on the
right-field foul pole, the Dodgers struggled mightily against
Weaver (6-3), who yielded five hits and struck out seven while
winning for just the second time in seven starts.
Weaver even struck out his older brother, Jeff, the Dodgers’
long reliever who took over in the third inning for struggling
Carlos Monasterios (3-1). The Venezuelan rookie took the first loss
of his major league career in his 16th appearance, allowing seven
hits and three walks.
The Weavers hadn’t batted against each other since they were
kids playing Wiffle Ball in their backyard in Simi Valley, Calif.,
although Jeff beat Jered last June 20 at Angel Stadium when they
started against each other in the eighth matchup between brothers
in baseball history.
“It’s 1-0 Jered,” the Angels’ Weaver proclaimed with a grin.
“We’ll be saving that video, that’s for sure. … I tried not to
look him in the eye, because I knew I’d be busting up
Two brothers hadn’t faced each other in a major league game
since Sept. 26, 2007, when Boston’s Julio Lugo batted against
Oakland’s Ruddy Lugo.
Matsui got the day off on his 36th birthday Saturday, but
returned with another sizzling game for the Angels. He had an RBI
single in the first inning, a double in the third and another
run-scoring single in the fifth, improving to 20 for 48 with 12
RBIs in June.
NOTES: Bobby Abreu also had three hits for the Angels. …
Ramirez had been in an 8-for-36 slump on the Dodgers’ homestand
before getting two doubles and a single, including a shot that
bounced into the left-field stands behind the Mannywood sign. …
The first pitch was thrown out by Jonathan Goldsmith, the
gray-bearded actor famous for his role as “The Most Interesting
Man in the World” in a marketing campaign for Dos Equis beer. The
71-year-old Goldsmith’s strong throw came in thigh-high and just
off the plate, prompting public-address announcer Eric Smith to
intone, “That was the most interesting pitch in the world.”