He struggled so much for so long this season that Kole Calhoun at times had to work just to keep his head lifted.
The height of his recent resurgence was captured best Saturday when he lifted his entire team.
Calhoun’s 10th-inning solo homer off Kenley Jansen gave the Angels a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers after they blew two one-run leads, the latter in the ninth inning.
“He’s been banging balls since he’s been back,” Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney said of Calhoun, who was hitting .145 after 50 games. “That’s the Kole that we know. He’s fun to watch right now.”
The home run was the third in two games for Calhoun and his fourth at Dodger Stadium in 11 career games. Since returning from the disabled list June 18, he has eight homers.
“It’s nice to get a win, especially in this series,” Calhoun said. “Definitely nice to contribute.”
After the Dodgers tied the score 4-4 in the ninth, Jansen entered and did so on a roll.
Tied for the National League lead in saves, the right-hander had a 2.23 ERA, a .182 opponents’ batting average and a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) of 0.95 in 42 appearances.
Jansen, an All-Star, had pitched scoreless relief in 26 of his previous 30 appearances and successfully converted 22 of 23 save opportunities in that span.
“I tried to go up and in on him,” Jansen said. “That’s where I’ve had success against him. I guess it didn’t go too much in. It stayed a little bit middle in, not up. He put a good swing on it. It’s painful, but you can’t let that beat you up.”
All this came after the Dodgers had produced a stirring comeback to necessitate a 10th inning.
The first hint that things could turn came in the eighth, when Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in Blake Parker with the idea of the right-hander securing a six-out save, the Angels leading 4-3 at the time.
Parker hadn’t pitched since July 7, against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium. Though he worked through a scoreless eighth, Parker needed 21 pitches as the Dodgers put men at first and second.
“I felt really good,” he said. “Getting out of that little jam, I was pretty fired up going back to the dugout so I had a lot of energy. I felt strong, felt good.”
Two batters into the bottom of the ninth, however, the Dodgers had tied it 4-4.
Pinch-hitter Chase Utley singled and came all the way home on a double by Yasmani Grandal, a shot that left the bat at 102 mph and sailed over the head of Justin Upton in left.
The Dodgers eventually loaded the bases but couldn’t produce a walk-off moment as the Angels used relievers Hansel Robles and Jose Alvarez to send the game into extra innings. Joc Pederson’s fly to center was caught by Mike Trout near the wall for the third out.
After Calhoun’s homer in the top of the 10th, the Dodgers made one more run at the Angels.
Andrew Toles doubled on a ball that Upton failed to catch while twisting, turning and stumbling and finally banging his right side into the wall.
“When I went to find the ball again, I couldn’t quite find it,” he said. “At that point, when I found it at the last second, I tried to turn and catch it.… I didn’t know where I was.”
Toles advanced to third on a passed ball, but was stranded there when Alvarez got Utley to fly out to short left field and Grandal to strike out.
It might have been a tough day for Upton in the field, but his home run in the seventh gave the Angels a 4-3 lead.