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The rivalry is turning into a romp

Angels finish season series with their fifth win in six games, outscoring the Dodgers, 33-10, along the way.

June 18, 2007|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

The Angels are making a mockery of this Freeway Series rivalry, which has become as lopsided in recent years as James Loney versus the right-field wall in Dodger Stadium on Sunday.

The Dodgers' young first-baseman-turned-outfielder slammed face-first into the plexiglass-covered out-of-town scoreboard, at full speed, in pursuit of Gary Matthews Jr.'s eighth-inning drive over his head.

In a violent collision that made a sellout crowd of 56,000 shudder, the wall didn't budge. Neither did Loney after he crumpled to the ground, where he lay motionless as Matthews circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

That was one of many beatings absorbed Sunday by the Dodgers, who were pummeled by the Angels, 10-4, their only solace coming with news that Loney had suffered only a bruised right knee.

Angels right-hander Kelvim Escobar (8-3) shook off Rafael Furcal's leadoff home run to throw seven strong innings, giving up three runs and eight hits and striking out eight, as the Angels won for the fifth time in six games against the Dodgers this season and pushed their American League West lead over Oakland to six games.

Orlando Cabrera, who is batting .342, and Howie Kendrick each had three hits to pace a 16-hit attack for the Angels, who outscored the Dodgers, 33-10, this season and are 30-18 against them since former Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia took over as Angels manager in 2000.

"We're glad they're not in our division, let me just put it that way," Dodgers Manager Grady Little said. "They're a good club, and they certainly gave us more than we could handle this weekend."

Angels pitchers combined for a 1.70 earned-run average in the six games against the Dodgers and were backed by a defense that committed only one error and turned six double plays.

The Angels, who at 44-26 are tied with Boston for the most wins in the major leagues, hit only two home runs against the Dodgers but out-hit them, 60-42, stole eight bases and constantly pressured them by going from first to third on singles.

They went seven for 17 with runners in scoring position Sunday and got contributions up and down the lineup. Leadoff batter Chone Figgins had two hits, including a two-run single in the seventh.

Robb Quinlan had two hits, including an RBI single during a four-run third inning off Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf, who threw first-pitch balls to 12 of the first 17 batters he faced and in his short stint threw 100 pitches, only 54 for strikes.

Shea Hillenbrand, playing for the first time in six days, singled to spark a three-run rally in the seventh, Reggie Willits reached base four times in five plate appearances and had an RBI double in the eighth, and Escobar's sacrifice bunt in the sixth and single to left in the seventh helped fuel run-scoring rallies.

"They've got a lot of weapons over there," Dodgers left fielder Luis Gonzalez said. "They were running guys off the bench, and I know Grady sat next to me earlier and said, 'Man, it looks like they've got a track team out there.' They've got a lot of guys who can run the bases and do a lot of little things, and they've got their power guys up top. They create a lot of havoc and can make things happen."

About the only encouraging development for the Dodgers was that Loney, one of the organization's top prospects, wasn't seriously injured.

"I didn't see it," said Angels reliever Scot Shields, who was in the right-field bullpen, about 25 feet away from where Loney crashed into the wall. "All you heard was boom."

As trainers tended to him, Loney remained on the ground for several minutes, surrounded by most of his teammates who were on the field at the time. Eventually, he sat up and was able to crack a smile before being carted off the field. He was limping afterward and taken to a hospital for precautionary X-rays.

"That was scary," Scioscia said. "The kid is playing hard, going after a ball. Your first thought is that he has a head or neck injury. Considering what could have happened, it could have been much worse."

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