Ethier's 2nd HR leads Dodgers to walk-off win, Angels lose 6 in row
Andre Ethier always wanted to be the guy who made the game-winning 3-pointer or catch the game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone as time expired. In baseball, his only chance at sudden death is a walk-off home run — which he has done six times in his major-league career.
Ethier, starting in the cleanup spot for the fourth time this season, hit his second dramatic home run in three innings — a two-run shot in the 10th — to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a three-game Freeway Series sweep with a 5-3 victory over the sputtering Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
"After three at-bats, I finally got the barrel on the ball," said Ethier, who grounded out his first time up and struck out his next two at-bats. "But it doesn't matter where they put me in the lineup. I just go out there and try to figure out a way to contribute."
The Dodgers are 4-9 when Ethier hits cleanup.
Drew Rucinski (0-2) walked Adrian Gonzalez with one out in the 10th before Ethier deposited the rookie right-hander's 1-1 pitch into the Angels' bullpen in right field for his 12th homer and the Dodgers' NL-leading 131st home run.
"I guess I did it at the right time today and put us over the top," Ethier said. "In baseball, there aren't too many times where you get to take the last shot, and that was one of those opportunities right there."
Pedro Baez (4-2) picked up the victory with 1 1/3 innings of relief.
Three days after he was acquired from the Miami Marlins in a three-team, 13-player trade involving the Atlanta Braves, Mat Latos yielded a run and four hits over six innings in his Dodgers debut and left with a 2-1 lead.
But Jim Johnson — also pitching his first game with the club after coming over in the same deal — gave up a tying homer by Kole Calhoun with one out in the eighth.
Ethier regained the lead in the bottom half with a towering drive to center field on a 3-1 pitch from Joe Smith — the first home run allowed by the right-hander in 43 innings this season.
"It was one of those situations — a tie ballgame — so I just felt I should go ahead and give it a shot, put a good aggressive swing on it, see if I could get something in the air and see if I could change the game with one swing," Ethier said. "And I got the right pitch."
But in the ninth, Chris Iannetta greeted Baez with a first-pitch RBI double over the head of center fielder Joc Pederson after pinch-hitter Shane Victorino led off the inning with a single against J.P. Howell.
The Dodgers' second-ever three-game sweep of the Angels put them a season-high 15 games over .500 (60-45).
The loss was the Angels' season-worst sixth straight and ninth in 10 games, following a 17-3 stretch that matched the best 20-game span in franchise history. Houston opened this road trip with a three-game sweep. It's their first winless trip of six or more games since 1999 (0-7).
"Our guys played hard all through the series — all through Houston, too," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously, we're up against it when you're going with a staff against a lineup like the Dodgers have. But for the most part, whoever was in there just pitched their hearts out and kept us in the game."
The Angels got only one baserunner as far as third base through the first five innings. The Angels got on the board in the sixth with a broken-bat RBI single by Albert Pujols.
Pederson was back in the lineup after getting benched by manager Don Mattingly for the previous two games. The rookie went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, and has fanned 10 times in his last 13 at-bats to raise his total to an NL-worst 128. He is batting just .221 despite 21 home runs, and is 10 for 55 with three RBI since playing in the All-Star Game.
Angels: Garrett Richards opposes reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series with Cleveland.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (7-6), obtained from Atlanta before the non-waiver trading deadline, will become the 30th pitcher used by the club this season and the 16th to start a game when they begin a three-game set against the Phillies on Tuesday night.