Aybar, Callaspo homer as Angels beat Dodgers
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Erick Aybar has earned a reputation as a slick-fielding shortstop who hits home runs when they are least expected. And that goes for most of them.
Aybar led off the ninth inning with his first homer of the season, Alberto Callaspo also went deep and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Dodgers 2-1 Wednesday night in the rubber game of the season's first Freeway Series.
"Both teams had a lot of chances to score, it seemed like, and nobody did anything with guys on base," Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. "It's just kind of ironic that we won on a solo homer from a guy who hadn't hit one yet, so it was kind of cool."
The switch-hitting Aybar jumped on a 1-1 pitch from right-hander Kenley Jansen (4-2) and deposited it into the pavilion seats in right-center. It was his 25th homer in 2,395 big league at-bats -- including a career-high 10 last season, which matched his total for the previous two seasons combined.
"Erick is getting a little bit better feel from the right side. But from the left side, it's really been a struggle for him trying to find his rhythm -- how he loads, how he gathers himself," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's changed some things mechanically, and hopefully he's going to start contributing more offensively. We know he's a presence at shortstop, but we need him to be more of a presence in that batter's box."
LaTroy Hawkins (1-1) earned his first victory with the Angels after pitching a hitless eighth in relief of Wilson. Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his sixth save in six chances, retiring pinch-hitter and former Angel Bobby Abreu on a comebacker with two runners in scoring position.
Wilson allowed a run and four hits over seven innings in his Dodger Stadium debut, striking out three and walking five. The left-hander, who did not give up a hit over his final 4 2-3 innings, has a 0.77 ERA over his last five starts, with three wins and two no-decisions.
But he's not a guy who's impressed with personal numbers -- just results.
"I'm a pitcher, not a statistician, so I just try to go out there and follow the plan," Wilson said. "We set a really good plan with our scouting, and the catchers are really on board. I also do a lot of video preparation and stuff. So if I hit my spots, that's the best chance I can give myself. The walks tonight were really embarrassing. I was upset about that because my pitch count was up and I wasn't able to pitch as long into the game as I wanted to."
Second base umpire Sam Holbrook made a key call in the sixth when he ruled that Aybar could have caught Andre Ethier's line drive toward the middle of the diamond and instead intentionally dropped the ball with the thought of starting an inning-ending double play.
First baseman Albert Pujols handled the relay throw after Aybar stepped on second for the "force" on Juan Rivera, and the Angels started trotting off the field. But Holbrook ordered them back to their positions and Rivera back to first, prompting a brief argument from Scioscia. Wilson walked the next two batters before James Loney flied out on a cutter, keeping the score tied 1-all.
The Dodgers got a run in the first on a walk to Elian Herrera and a two-out double by Ethier, whose NL-leading 55 RBIs are just seven fewer than he had in 487 at-bats last season.
Callaspo tied it in the second against Nathan Eovaldi with a drive just inside the right-field pole, his third homer this season.
"You make mistakes to anybody in the big leagues and they'll make you pay," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "Both balls on the home runs probably didn't get in far enough. Those guys may not always show it, but they have enough juice to hit it out."
Eovaldi pitched more carefully to Callaspo his next time up, walking him and loading the bases with none out in the third after singles by Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt came out for a chat with the 22-year-old right-hander, who got Aybar to roll over his next pitch as Pujols threw home to start a 3-2-3 double play. John Hester struck out, stranding two runners in scoring position.
The Angels had the potential tying run at second in the fifth, but Eovaldi fooled Trumbo on a breaking ball for the third out after an intentional walk to Pujols. Eovaldi pitched six innings, allowing a run and seven hits with four strikeouts. He has a 1.82 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Double-A Chattanooga on May 29, but is 0-2.
NOTES: Two nights after winning their first Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings brought it to Dodger Stadium. Captain Dustin Brown placed the Cup on top of the mound, where he was joined by his teammates and then the Dodgers' and Angels' uniformed personnel for a massive group photo. Each Kings player threw a ceremonial first pitch to a different Dodgers player, and organist Nancy Bea Hefley played a few choruses of "The Night They Invented Champagne," from the 1958 Leslie Caron musical "Gigi." ... The Stanley Cup also came to Dodger Stadium on Aug. 25, 2002, when longtime Kings star Luc Robitaille brought it after winning it with the Detroit Red Wings and posed with Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine and Dodgers Canadian-born closer Eric Gagne. Glavine was drafted five rounds and 102 picks ahead of Robitaille by the Kings in 1984. ... Wilson's 2.30 ERA is second-best in the AL behind Chris Sale of the White Sox, who is scheduled to put his 2.05 mark up against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in L.A.