Mike Trout celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the fourth… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
A five-run deficit two innings into a game would have spelled doom for the Angels in the first month of the season, but as the pitcher who put his team in that hole Friday night and still wound up with a "W" next to his name knows, these Angels are not those April Fools.
"That first month, if we were down by five, we'd have no chance," right-hander Dan Haren said after an 8-5 come-from-behind victory over the Dodgers before a sellout crowd of 44,540 in Angel Stadium.
"But this club, we're very close, we've got each other's backs. Everyone picked me up after the first two innings. Luckily, I was able to hold them for a few innings, and the bullpen did its job."
The rookie phenom and relief revelation who have played key roles in the Angels' recovery from a 6-14 start after joining the team in late April and early May made key contributions Friday night, as the Angels overcame their largest deficit to win a game this season.
Outfielder Mike Trout, promoted from triple-A Salt Lake on April 27, snapped a 5-5 tie with a fourth-inning home run and walked and scored from first base — on a single by Torii Hunter — in the sixth, as the Angels won for the 21st time in 28 games to remain within five games of Texas in the American League West.
Hisanori Takahashi threw a scoreless sixth before leaving because of stiffness in his right hip, and Scott Downs (seventh) and Jason Isringhausen (eighth) added scoreless innings.
Ernesto Frieri then threw a scoreless ninth for his eighth save, giving the right-hander 202/3 scoreless innings with 36 strikeouts since his May 3 trade from San Diego.
"No doubt, early in the year the ability to come back was nonexistent, the offense was pretty much not happening at all," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "A game like this in April was tough for us to get back into. But we've got more pieces in place now, a deeper lineup that has given us a chance to come back and do some of the things we're doing."
The Dodgers, who totaled two runs and eight hits in three games at Oakland, snapped out of their offensive funk, getting 12 hits, but lost their fourth in a row.
"After this game, it doesn't really concern me," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said of the losing streak. "This was a lot more like our club. We fought at-bats. Our energy was good. Guys were battling. Obviously, we gave up the runs, but we weren't kicking the ball around. We didn't give that game away. We got beat."
Haren gave up a three-run first-inning homer to former Angel Bobby Abreu, which snapped a string of 250 Dodgers plate appearances without a homer dating to June 12, and two runs in the second on RBI singles byJerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Rivera.
But Haren blanked the Dodgers over the next three innings, and the Angels torched Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley for three runs in the second and three in the fourth.
Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo singled in the second, Alberto Callaspo hit an RBI double, Howie Kendrick hit a sacrifice fly, and Erick Aybar's RBI groundout cut the lead to 5-3.
Callaspo led off the fourth with a single and scored on Aybar's one-out triple to right to make it 5-4, and Bobby Wilson's suicide squeeze bunt made it 5-5.
Trout's seventh homer of the season, a towering shot to left-center, put the Angels up, 6-5, and the Angels added two runs in the sixth when Hunter, with Wilson off from second and Trout from first on a full-count pitch, lined a single to the gap in right-center that scored both runners for an 8-5 lead.