It was the fourth consecutive one-run game for the Dodgers tonight, but it didn’t end the way they’d like it to.
Juan Rivera hit a 2-2 slider for a home run off Guillermo Mota in the eighth, and Brian Fuentes shut the door in the ninth to earn his major-league leading 19th save as the Angels won 5-4.
The regular seventh or eighth-inning guy for the Dodgers, Ronald Belisario, was unavailable to come out of the bullpen tonight after appearing in all three games of the Oakland series, so Joe Torre decided to leave Mota in after he recorded the last two outs of the seventh.
Rivera fouled off six pitches in the at-bat and hit the home run on the ninth pitch from Mota. In talking to Rivera in the clubhouse, he said that taking all the pitches allowed him to get his timing really set by the time Mota delivered the fateful slider.
The defense was sharp for the Dodgers tonight — save for an errant pickoff attempt by Chad Billingsley in the third that eventually allowed Chone Figgins to score — but Billingsley wasn’t at his best. The 24-year-old ace went six innings but allowed six hits and a season-high five walks. He was charged with three earned runs in his failed bid for ten wins.
Angels lefthander Joe Saunders wasn’t at his best either, essentially matching Billingsley’s line with six and 1/3 innings pitched, six hits, and three walks, but the Dodgers couldn’t score off any of the Angels four relievers.
Weaver vs. Weaver tomorrow. Jeff and Jered, that is.
It’s definitely been an eventful game thus far. Casey Blake made a huge catch in the bottom of the second to save two runs for the Dodgers, Erick Aybar made a barehanded scoop to start a double play in the second, a ball nearly hit a Dodger player in the dugout, and the season-high crowd at Angel Stadium of Anaheim has been absolutely raucous all night.
Chad Billingsley wasn’t at his best, going (what looks like) only six innings and giving up six hits, five walks, and four runs (three earned). The Dodgers also managed to score four off Angels’ ace Joe Saunders, however, via home runs by Rafael Furcal and James Loney and an RBI walk from Casey Blake.
Jason Bulger has just entered the game for Saunders with one out in the top of the seventh here in Anaheim.
Chad Billingsley looks for his tenth win tonight as the second edition of the 2009 Freeway Series begins. A Billingsley win would tie him with Toronto’s Roy Halladay for the major-league lead. The Angels’ Joe Saunders opposes him. Saunders came thisclose to a complete game last time out, going 8 1/3 innings, allowing only one run, and earning the win against Padres.
The Angels took two out of three in Los Angeles in May. They’re hot of late, winners of their last six contests.
Casey Blake hit a three-run shot in the third inning off Rangers starter Derek Holland, but the Dodgers have wasted a few other chances to add some insurance runs. Again, Chad Billingsley doesn’t have his best stuff, but at least he’s being more economical than usual, having thrown only 69 pitches through five innings.
Andruw Jones hit his second home run of the series in the third — in six series at-bats, he has hit only one less four-bagger than he hit in 209 at-bats in 2008.