With the Angels holding a two-run lead Saturday night, the Dodgers' Andre Ethier came to bat in the fifth inning with a chance to drive in a run to get the Dodgers closer.
He lined the pitch directly at Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu, the ball hit so hard that a dejected Ethier stopped before reaching first base, having already been called out.
The league's leading hitter then got another chance in the seventh inning when the Dodgers loaded the bases against reliever Kevin Jepsen. But this time Ethier struck out, and soon the Dodgers ran out of chances.
The result: The Angels held on for a 4-2 victory, their second consecutive win in the three-game interleague Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium.
"When you face Ethier and [Matt] Kemp with the bases loaded there's not a lot of wiggle room and [Kevin Jepsen] made the pitches to get through it," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said "we had our opportunity with the middle of the batting order . . . and we weren't able to" cash in.
Juan Rivera and Howie Kendrick led the Angels' offense in a game where, through the first five innings, Angels starter Scott Kazmir and Dodgers rookie John Ely continued to be two pitchers slowly moving in opposite directions.
After a sluggish early season that included a strained hamstring, Kazmir has rebounded lately, while Ely, the hyperactive 24-year-old who pitched remarkably well in his first few starts, has been slipping.
At 26, Kazmir is only two years older than Ely, but Kazmir — acquired by the Angels last August from the Tampa Bay Rays — has several years of experience and, on Saturday, had only one bad inning.
That was the fifth, when Jamey Carroll doubled to left field, Rafael Furcal walked and both scored on Russell Martin's double to the right-field gap.
Otherwise Kazmir gave up only three hits in five innings, while walking four and striking out five.
The Angels, in turn, tagged Ely for four earned runs and six hits in his five innings of work, with Ely also walking three and striking out two. That tied Ely's shortest outing of the year, which came in his prior start, when he also gave up four earned runs to the Atlanta Braves.
The Angels pounced on Ely in the fourth inning, when Kendrick led off with a double to the right-field gap and moved to third base on some strategic batting by Abreu, who grounded out to Carroll, the second baseman.
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter then doubled to left field to score Kendrick. After Maicer Izturis flied out, Rivera followed with a home run into the Dodgers' bullpen in left field, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead.
The Angels added a run in the fifth inning when Erick Aybar singled and Kendrick lifted a fly ball to shallow right field that landed just inside the foul line for a double, scoring Aybar.
As for Ely, "he's just been a little off," Torre said. "When he's going to be successful his control has to be perfect. He can't challenge people down the middle because he's not overpowering."
Still, "I thought he was better this time than last time," Torre said. "He'll get back."
Ely said "the bottom line is you've got to throw better pitches in better situations. I think we just got away from executing pitching."
The Dodgers threatened in the seventh inning when Jepsen walked Carroll and Garret Anderson had a pinch-hit single. After Furcal popped out trying to bunt, Martin walked to load the bases. But Ethier struck out and Matt Kemp grounded out.
Kazmir worked all winter on building his strength and sharpening his pitches after he suffered a subpar postseason that left him bitterly disappointed.
At first the effort didn't seem to pay off; Kazmir struggled through the first few weeks of this season as his earned-run average ballooned to 7.11 on May 6.
But lately he has turned it around, dropping his ERA to 5.27, and he has won four of his last five starts.
The Angels got solid work out of their bullpen, with Francisco Rodriguez, Jepsen, Fernando Rodney and Brian Fuentes holding the Dodgers scoreless over the last four innings.
Fuentes picked up the save despite giving up a two-out double to Furcal in the ninth.
The Angels' win was a birthday present to their new slugger Hideki Matsui, who turned 36 but didn't start Saturday night's game.
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