Scott Kazmir said he "doesn't put too much stock" in his spring-training numbers, which is probably a sound investment strategy for the Dodgers left-hander. It was a bear market for most of March, Kazmir's exhibition earned-run average sitting at an unsightly 7.71 through four starts.
But Kazmir, signed to a three-year, $48-million deal to be the team's No. 2 starter, took what the Dodgers hope is a significant step forward in his final spring tuneup Thursday night.
Featuring a fastball that sat in the 89-mph range and an effective changeup, Kazmir allowed one unearned run and four hits in 42/3 innings, striking out four and walking two in a 2-1 Freeway Series loss to the Angels in Dodger Stadium.
"All in all, it was a good outing," Kazmir said.
"My velocity feels good. I feel like I can be a little more deceptive, but I'm confident out there."
Kazmir, making his first start in Dodger Stadium since 2010, struck out C.J. Cron with a 92-mph fastball in the first and whiffed Albert Pujols (fourth) and Johnny Giavotella (fifth) with changeups.
His next start, in San Diego on Tuesday night, will count.
"I liked having this last outing in Dodger Stadium," Kazmir said, "so I could really get comfortable with my surroundings, the mound, pretty much everything."
Angels starter Andrew Heaney looked extremely comfortable in his last spring start, allowing one run and six hits in six innings, striking out four and walking one, running his fastball up to 95 mph at one point.
Reliever Al Alburquerque struck out the side in the seventh.
Todd Cunningham drove in the winning run with an eighth-inning single off Chris Hatcher, and Angels catcher Carlos Perez had three hits.
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, out since March 11 because of a left-knee sprain, singled twice and fielded the four ground balls hit to him cleanly, making a long, off-balance throw from the hole to retire Craig Gentry in the first.
But Seager got turned around on Andrelton Simmons' fourth-inning popup to shallow left-center, took his eye off the ball and dropped it for an error that led to an unearned run.
"He kind of did everything you could imagine on a baseball field," Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said of Seager, who also took second with a head-first slide on a wild pitch in the fifth and scored on Yasiel Puig's ensuing single.
"His uniform was dirty. He got his adrenaline going. He made some tough plays in the hole. He dropped the popup. He swung the bat well."
The game's best defensive play was turned in by Giavotella, the Angels second baseman who last season was considered one of the worst defenders in the majors at his position.
Giavotella spent time over the winter working with fellow New Orleans native Ron Washington, the Oakland third-base coach and infield guru whose tutoring sessions with Giavotella are paying off.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the first, Scott Van Slyke sent a hard grounder up the middle. Giavotella made a backhand stop in shallow center, leaped into the air a la Derek Jeter and got enough on his two-hop throw to first to get Van Slyke, saving two runs.
"That was a big play — he saved a couple of runs," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Johnny made some terrific plays last year. What he's striving for is that consistency in his double-play turns, his routes to the ball. He's working very hard this spring, and he's improved."