While a raucous Angel Stadium crowd exchanged chants of "Let's go Dodgers!" and "Let's go Angels!" Monday night, Southern California's baseball rivals spent the evening exchanging jabs and counter-punches, the Angels answering Dodgers scoring rallies in the second, fifth and seventh innings with runs of their own.
The corner men — Mike Scioscia of the Angels and Don Mattingly of the Dodgers — waged their own strategic battle, each manager taking advantage of expanded September rosters to begin matching up early, an approach that resulted in 16 pitchers being used, the most ever in a Dodgers-Angels game and tied for second most in a nine-inning game in major league history.
When the 3-hour 52-minute marathon on a sultry 89-degree evening finally ended, the Dodgers didn't so much win, 7-5. They were the last team standing.
"It was definitely a September game," Mattingly said. "Lots of crazy stuff. Hits, guys everywhere."
The Dodgers' No. 8 batter, Scott Van Slyke, had a career-high four hits and four runs batted in, including a two-run double that barely left the infield. And No. 9 batter Joc Pederson had three singles — his first multi-hit game since July 25 — to lead a 16-hit attack that pushed the Dodgers a season-high 81/2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
The Dodgers — who have 12 wins in their last 14 games and have won seven straight against the Angels dating to last season — had seven hits in a whopping 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Angels could not withstand the constant pressure and dropped 31/2 games behind Texas for the second American League wild-card spot.
"Some guys came in and did a really nice job, and a couple of guys came in and had trouble finding the zone," Scioscia said of his relievers. "We've used our bullpen a lot. Tonight was one of those nights they didn't step up and pitch the way they can."
Though the Angels had 11 hits and got home runs from C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun, they went one for nine with runners in scoring position, and Mike Trout suffered the first 0-for-5, three-strikeout game of his career.
His last whiff came in the ninth against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who then struck out Albert Pujols and got pinch-hitter David DeJesus to fly out for his 30th save and some much-needed relief for his teammates.
"It was a really long game," Pederson said. "It felt like a winter-ball game, especially with the number of pitching changes."
Dodgers starter Zack Greinke, who entered with a major league-leading 1.59 earned-run average, was good enough to improve to 16-3 but not great — at least, by his standards.
He threw six innings, a threshold he has reached or passed in all 28 of his starts this year, but allowed three runs and seven hits, only the sixth time this season he has given up more than two runs. He gave up the homers to Cron and Calhoun, whose two-run shot tied the score, 3-3, in the fifth.
"We kind of made the decision we weren't going to push him tonight," Mattingly said, citing the 114 pitches Greinke threw in his last game. "We felt he kind of labored all night."
The Dodgers pulled ahead, 4-3, in the sixth on Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly, which came after the Dodgers loaded the bases on singles by Van Slyke and Pederson and Chase Utley's wicked line drive that went off leaping Angels second baseman Taylor Featherston's glove for a hit.
The Dodgers took advantage of another hit off the glove of an Angel to score twice in the seventh for a 6-3 lead.
With runners and second and third and the infield in, Van Slyke hit a chopper that Gott leaped for and deflected with his glove past shortstop Erick Aybar, who would at least have had a play at first. The ball carried into the outfield for a two-run double.
The Angels rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Featherston scoring on Jim Johnson's wild pitch and Pujols hitting an RBI single to make it 6-5. But the Dodgers tacked on another run in the eighth, Van Slyke chopping an RBI infield single over the mound.
Justin Ruggiano, acquired from Seattle on Aug. 31, delivered his second big pinch-hit in four days, a two-run double that gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Ruggiano hit a tiebreaking homer Friday in a win at San Diego.
Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney (6-2, 3.18 ERA) will oppose Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (12-6, 2.18 ERA) at Angel Stadium on Tuesday at 7 p.m. TV: FS West, SportsNet LA; Radio: 830, 1330, 570, 1020.