Yasiel Puig was in center field for the Dodgers on Monday night but his mind was somewhere else.
So when Josh Hamilton flied out to Puig in the eighth inning, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols tried something completely unexpected. As Puig stared into space with the ball in his glove, the 34-year-old with creaky knees tagged up from first base. Pujols comfortably beat the throw to second.
"He kind of embarrassed him right there," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.
That's the kind of night it was for the Dodgers, who barely showed up for the opening game of the Freeway Series, a 5-0 defeat to the Angels at Dodger Stadium that included a nightmarish first inning for Zack Greinke and two throwing errors by Hanley Ramirez. They were limited to five hits by Garrett Richards, who pitched a complete game.
"That was just a bad game all the way around," Greinke said.
The loss was the third in four games for the Dodgers, whose lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West was reduced to 11/2 games.
Greinke was supposed to provide the Dodgers with a break from back-end starters Josh Beckett and Dan Haren, who continued to be hit hard in recent days.
But the first inning was more of the same. By the time Greinke figured out what he was doing, the Dodgers were down, 4-0, and the game was essentially over.
Kole Calhoun led off the game with a sharp single to left field and scored on a double by Mike Trout that skipped by a sliding Carl Crawford in left field.
Trout scored on another double, this one by Pujols.
"I just started off slow," Greinke said. "Not even close to hitting my spot with Trout and Pujols and they did what they should have done."
Pujols reached third base on a groundout by Josh Hamilton but was thrown out at the plate by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Erick Aybar, who reached base on the fielder's choice, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored when Ramirez made a throwing error on a grounder by Howie Kendrick.
Greinke uncorked a second wild pitch, which allowed Kendrick to move into scoring position. Kendrick was driven in by David Freese, who singled to right field.
Like that, the Dodgers were down, 4-0.
With Richards pumping a continuous stream of fastballs in the high-90s, the Dodgers were limited to two hits over the first six innings — a leadoff single by Ramirez in the second inning and a two-out single by Crawford in the fourth.
If there was any consolation, it was that Greinke collected himself and spared Mattingly from emptying the bullpen.
Greinke completed seven innings; the only other run he gave up was on a sixth-inning home run by Hamilton.
"That was probably the worst pitch I've ever thrown," Greinke said of his down-the-middle offering to Hamilton.
Greinke's performance was a setback for a team looking to stabilize its pitching.
Haren and Beckett remain scheduled to make their next starts, but Mattingly said that Carlos Frias could step into the rotation if injuries prevent them from taking the mound.
Frias, 24, was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on Monday to replace slumping reliever Chris Perez, who was put on the 15-day disabled list because of bone spurs in his right ankle.
Frias made his major league debut by pitching the final two innings, which probably rules him out from starting in place of Haren on Wednesday. However, he could replace Beckett on Friday if Beckett's ailing left hip continues to be a problem.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times