LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tony Gwynn Jr. had just stroked the winning single when his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates swarmed him in the dirt.”It’s fun to be on the bottom of those piles,” he said, grinning.
Hitting in the leadoff spot, Gwynn went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and helped the Dodgers rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Angels 3-2 on Sunday, preventing a Freeway Series sweep.
The late-inning thrills capped a stingy pitching duel between aces Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver.
Pinch-hitter Aaron Miles, batting for Kershaw, drove in the tying run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly and Gwynn won it with his two-out single.
The Dodgers ended a three-game skid, though they remain nine games below .500.
“We needed a win,” Kershaw said. “It’s awesome any time you walk off. Tony came up huge.”
Kershaw (8-3) gave up six hits in his second consecutive complete game, tying a season high with 11 strikeouts for the second straight outing. He also walked none in his 100th career start.
The 23-year-old lefty struck out the side in the fifth and his 128 strikeouts surpassed Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay, who has 123, for the NL lead.
But Kershaw was still critical of himself, saying, “I got a lot of leadoff guys on base, which makes it easy to score runs. I’ve got to work on that.”
Vernon Wells homered in the top of the ninth to give the Angels a 2-1 lead.
“You go from the bottom to the top real fast,” Kershaw said. “That’s the awesome thing about this game. A big swing of emotion, for sure.”
Weaver allowed one run and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.
“I knew going into it that it was going to be a battle, and it was,” Weaver said. “It was a pitchers’ duel, which is always fun for me because I like that kind of stuff. We both threw the ball real well and they came out on top.”
The Angels had won six straight at Dodger Stadium, including wins in the first two games of the series, when they outscored the Dodgers 14-4.
“A sweep would have been a little nicer, but we took two of three from them and we had a pretty good road trip,” Weaver said, mindful that the Angels moved into second place behind Texas in the AL West while going 8-4 on their longest trip of the season.
Jordan Walden (1-2) walked his first two batters in the ninth before Jamey Carroll advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Miles hit a fly to centre field, scoring pinch-runner Dee Gordon on a close play, and Gwynn lined a 2-2 pitch into right to end the game.
“He called him safe and he was out. But you can’t hang your hat on an umpire’s call,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You need to be good enough and play at a high enough level to be able to absorb a bad break here and there or an umpire’s call. So the fact that we didn’t get that call, sure, it means a win or a loss. But we also walked two guys to set up that situation.”
Gordon saw it differently.
“I never felt the glove (of catcher Jeff Mathis),” he said. “I knew he didn’t tag me so I just put my hand in there.”
The blown save was Walden’s fifth in 22 attempts.
Gwynn also had an RBI triple in the seventh.
Kershaw turned a double play in the sixth when Weaver’s bunt was popped up to him. Kershaw caught it backhanded to the right of the mound and fired to Carroll, who caught Mathis off second.
Wells, who struck out in his first three at-bats, sent a 3-2 pitch from Kershaw into the lower left-field seats with two outs in the ninth, putting the Angels back in front 2-1.
Kershaw got his 11th hit of the season, a two-out single in the seventh. Gwynn followed with a triple to right off the glove of Wells on the warning track, scoring Kershaw to tie the game at 1.
Wells, a three-time Gold Glove winner, backhanded the ball near the right-field wall, but it bounced out and fell to the ground.
“If I make that play, things might have been different. I expect to make those plays,” he said. “Weave was throwing a great game, and those type of plays need to be made, especially in close ballgames like that.”
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Erick Aybar led off with a double to left field, barely getting his hand on the bag ahead of second baseman Juan Uribe’s tag, with Aybar pumping his left arm as the umpire signaled safe.
Howie Kendrick followed with a single to centre field. Matt Kemp charged the ball and fired to the plate as Aybar dove under the tag of catcher Dioner Navarro.
NOTES: Angels RF Torii Hunter missed his third consecutive game with sore ribs, although the team hopes to have him back in the lineup at some point during its three-game series against the Nationals. … Dodgers OF Marcus Thames, who has a strained left calf, won’t be going on the DL and could serve as the DH during the team’s upcoming six games against AL opponents. … Injured Dodgers RHP Jonathan Broxton felt stiffness in his right elbow playing catch on Saturday, delaying plans to activate him by Friday, when the Dodgers play the Angels again in Anaheim.
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