Dee Gordon runs home as Angels Maicer Izturis chases the ball after an errant… (Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles…)
The strongest defense of the day for the Angels may have come after Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Dodgers, in their clubhouse, where first baseman Albert Pujols was almost defiant in backing his decision to throw across the infield in an attempt to cut down one of baseball's fastest runners in the first inning.
Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, who could probably match Angels speedster Mike Trout in a 40-yard dash, opened the game with a single to right and stole second.Jerry Hairston Jr., followed with a grounder to Pujols, who made a high-risk throw to third in an attempt to get Gordon.
No chance. Gordon beat the throw, and Pujols' mistake was compounded when the ball hit Gordon in the back and caromed into foul territory, allowing Gordon to score and Hairston to take second.
Two outs later, Juan Rivera hit a routine grounder to third baseman Maicer Izturis, whose throw sailed well over Pujols' head for an error that allowed Hairston to score, and the Dodgers were on their way to snapping a four-game losing streak.
"That's a play I make a lot, and if I throw him out there, they don't score that inning," Pujols said. "It's a gamble play, it's early in the game, but that isn't going to take any aggression away from me. You can't be scared playing this game. If I make it, it's a great play. This time it didn't work out."
The murky defense in the shadows of a late-afternoon start in Angel Stadium spoiled a strong start by right-hander Ervin Santana, who followed his one-hit shutout of Arizona last weekend by giving up three runs — two earned — and four hits, striking out 10 and walking none in eight innings. After Izturis' error in the first, Santana retired the next 13 batters, eight by strikeout.
Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano continued his strong and surprising push for an All-Star game berth, holding a hot Angels club to one run and seven hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking none, to improve to 9-2 with a 2.60 earned-run average.
Gordon had two hits and scored twice, Ronald Belisario threw a scoreless eighth and Kenley Jansen, pitching for the first time in eight days, threw a one-two-three ninth for his 12th save.
"It was a good win for us," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. "We stopped the bleeding, in a sense."
Capuano provided the tourniquet, stifling an Angels lineup that produced 26 runs and 37 hits, including five homers, nine doubles and two triples, in the previous three games.
"The numbers don't lie, right?" Mattingly said, when asked about Capuano's All-Star credentials. "It's not like this has been a mirage. He's been pitching good. He's been consistent. He should be considered."
The Angels cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth when Howie Kendrick doubled, took third on Izturis' groundout and scored on Erick Aybar's infield single.
But Dodgers center fielder Elian Herrera prevented further damage in the inning when, with runners on first and third and two out, he leaped at the wall to catch Torii Hunter's drive.
The substitute for the injured Matt Kemp might have robbed Hunter of a three-run homer. "That was the play of the game," Capuano said. "That turned it for us."
Gordon opened the sixth with a triple to left, and Hairston hit a grounder that Izturis could not backhand at third. The play was ruled a hit, and Gordon scored for a 3-1 lead. "The hop came up on him, and he wasn't able to get it," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Izturis. "But it was not a routine play."