There was a full moon Wednesday night, a shot of which was prominently displayed on the Angel Stadium video board after the eighth inning of the Dodgers-Angels game, and maybe that's about as good an explanation as there is for what transpired in the ninth.
There are wacky finishes, and then there was the end of the Angels' 2-1 victory over their Freeway Series rivals, a game that closed with two Dodgers getting picked off at second base, one by a pitcher and one by a left fielder.
FOR THE RECORD:
Baseball: The Dodgers-Angels game report in Thursday's Sports section said that in the ninth inning, the Angels' Brandon Wood, playing shortstop, made an errant throw to first base that pulled Mike Napoli off the bag. The throw pulled Robb Quinlan off the bag. —
The Dodgers, with runners at first and second and one out, thought they had tied the score when Reed Johnson crossed the plate after pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll's bloop single to left field.
But Russell Martin, who started the play at first base, overran second base and was thrown out by left fielder Juan Rivera for the third out.
Plate umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that second baseman Howie Kendrick applied the tag to Martin before Johnson touched the plate, so the run didn't count.
"That was pretty unbelievable," Angels shortstop Brandon Wood said. "Rivera had no play at home, and he threw it right on the money to second. You think the game is tied, and you come away with a win. It took us a couple of seconds to figure out what happened."
Joel Pineiro extended his winning streak to four games with a superb 71/3-inning, one-run, six-hit effort in which he retired 14 in a row at one point, as the Angels won for the eighth time in 11 games and improved to 18-7 against the Dodgers since July 1, 2006.
John Ely rebounded from a four-start slump in which he was 0-2 with a 6.23 earned-run average with seven strong innings, giving up two runs — one earned — and three hits, but that didn't prevent the Dodgers from losing for the ninth time in 11 games.
The Dodgers scored in the third inning on Matt Kemp's double, and the Angels scored their runs in the fourth and fifth innings, on ground balls by Torii Hunter and Kendrick.
But the real intrigue didn't start until the ninth. After Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen got Manny Ramirez to fly to right and struck out James Loney to end the eighth, Manager Mike Scioscia summoned Brian Fuentes to protect a 2-1 lead in the ninth.
Kemp opened with a grounder to short that Wood made a backhand stop of, but his throw pulled Mike Napoli off the bag at first for an error.
Pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard singled to center field to put two on with no out and was replaced by Johnson. Casey Blake, who has three sacrifice bunts this season, didn't even show bunt before striking out.
Before a 3-and-1 pitch to Martin, Fuentes picked off Kemp at second for the second out. Martin walked and Carroll got a bloop hit to left that Rivera first started back on and then raced in to field on a hop.
Martin made a wide turn around second and was thrown out by Rivera. Replays showed Martin might have gotten his hand onto the bag before Kendrick's tag, but DiMuro clearly made the right call at home.
"That was incredible," Scioscia said. "I've never seen a game end quite like that. The pickoff by Brian at second was big, and that was a heads-up play by Rivera to make a backdoor throw to second to get Martin.
"I don't know if you see that very often, but give DiMuro credit; he was right on that call. That was a bizarre way to end a game."
A television camera caught Martin screaming an apparent obscenity at second base umpire Jim Reynolds, but the Dodgers catcher took the blame for the play.
"It's a mistake by me to overrun second base, obviously," Martin said. "I tried to put on the brakes, and I didn't really quite get as back as fast as I wanted to.
"Rivera made a perfect throw to second base. I still think I'm safe getting in there, but it was too close, no matter what. The last thing you want to do is get thrown out before that run crosses."
Johnson said as he was about to cross the plate, "I hear the crowd kind of like starting to go crazy, and I turned back around and I see the umpire at that time had already called Russ out. It's tough to lose games like that."
Said Manager Joe Torre: "I thought we gave it away."