Sweeping Message by Angels
As for taking names, this is how it’s done.
Sweep a series against the team whose city you’ve hijacked, propelling yourself higher into first place and sending them deeper into a disorienting funk. Win the last game in your last at-bat on a cluster of hits from reliable veterans while your opponent feebly attempts to answer with a lineup of greenhorns.
The Angels can lay claim to Los Angeles for now. The no-name Dodgers are busy coping with an identity crisis.
Darin Erstad and Vladimir Guerrero came steaming around the bases on Garret Anderson’s double in the eighth inning Sunday, lifting the Angels to a 5-3 victory in front of an announced 44,029 at Angel Stadium.
Those were familiar faces taking familiar turns that led to a familiar result.
Meanwhile, the injury-riddled Dodger lineup was so inexperienced that the combined career statistics of the nine batters approximately equaled those of retired infielder-outfielder Juan Samuel -- without the stolen bases.
“The [Dodger] lineup out there, I wasn’t familiar with too many of them,” Angel starter Paul Byrd said.
Noteworthy in their absence were injured outfielders J.D. Drew and Milton Bradley, and second baseman Jeff Kent, who had the day off. That left a nondescript lineup card posted in the clubhouse by Manager Jim Tracy.
“Write it down, boys, and don’t laugh,” starting pitcher Derek Lowe said to reporters.
Lowe wasn’t laughing at the lack of support. Jayson Werth, batting cleanup, hit a two-run home run in the first and a solo shot in the seventh, accounting for all the Dodger offense.
“I could have put up more zeroes than I did,” Lowe said. “I can’t worry about how much our hitters are producing.”
Werth also homered Saturday for the only other run the Dodgers scored in the series, which left them 2-11 on a trip that began with an embarrassing sweep at Kansas City.
And they might have lost another player to injury.
Olmedo Saenz, who is batting .311, strained his hip running to first base in the ninth inning and was replaced by a pinch-runner.
Lowe gave the Dodgers (35-40) their eighth quality start in the last nine outings from the big three in the rotation -- Brad Penny, Jeff Weaver and Lowe. They have no victories to show for it, however, and none of the three have won since June 8.
“Although some guys were out of their lineup, they pitched well,” Angel Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But their rotation is good every day. We beat three good pitchers and that’s important.”
The Angels (45-29) have won six in a row and are 6 1/2 games ahead of Texas in the American League West -- the same cushion the San Diego Padres hold over the Dodgers -- by blending solid starting pitching and a strong bullpen with a lineup that knows how to peck away for runs even against an opposing pitcher who is on his game.
Adam Kennedy cajoled Lowe for walks to lead off the third and fifth innings, and scored both times. The Angels took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Jeff DaVanon’s triple was followed by a single by Maicer Izturis that looped over the head of his brother, Dodger shortstop Cesar, who was playing in to cut off a run.
Werth’s homer in the seventh tied the score, but in the eighth Erstad singled against Kelly Wunsch (1-1), and Guerrero and Anderson delivered against Duaner Sanchez.
“You can’t get too high off this, the same way we can’t go crazy when we are losing,” Erstad said. “You have to just play.”
The Dodger clubhouse is as lifeless as the Angel clubhouse is businesslike. Lowe playfully tried to inject some enthusiasm before the game, yelling, “Wake up!,” shadow-boxing teammates and blasting the stereo.
However, his choice of music might not have produced his intended effect. He put on “Welcome to the Jungle,” the song that plays when closer Eric Gagne takes the mound.
Hearing the song just reminded the Dodgers that they are playing short-handed. Like Drew, Bradley and several other key players, Gagne is out with an injury.
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With Sunday’s loss, the Dodgers finished their trip 2-11 and are 16-23 on the road, which would be one of the worst road winning percentages in Dodger history.
*--* YEAR ROAD OVERALL 1992 26-55 (.321) 63-99 1986 27-54 (.333) 73-89 1967 31-50 (.383) 73-89 1979 33-48 (.407) 79-83 1987 33-48 (.407) 73-89 2005 16-23 (.410) 1958 42-45 (.416) 71-83 1989 33-46 (.418) 77-83 1994 25-34 (.423) 58-56 1968 35-46 (.432) 76-86 1998 35-46 (.432) 83-79