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Angels 3, Dodgers 1: Three Up, Three Down

7/4/2011

ANAHEIM -- Ervin Santana was solid on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels, just as he's been his past four starts, and Russell Branyan gave the Halo's offense the boost it needed in the late innings to win Sunday's series finale over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-1, and take the final interleague contest of the 2011 season.

The Good:

Russell Branyan: The journeyman left-handed hitter, acquired in late May after he was cut by the Arizona Diamondbacks, finally did what he was acquired to do on Sunday -- and he did it in style, knocking back a 3-2 pitch from Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley deep into the center-field seats for the game-winning homer. He really was just about all of the Angels' offense on Sunday, as they had just three hits all game long, but that's really why the Angels got him in the first place. Power like Branyan's can change the outcome of games. It changed Sunday's.

Howie Kendrick's hitting streak: The Angels' newest All-Star extended his season-high hitting streak to 12 games with a single to center off of Billingsley in the second inning Sunday, the only Angel hit until Bobby Abreu led off the seventh with a ground-rule double to right. Kendrick's hitting .340 (16-for-47) during the streak. He also reached base via a hit-by-pitch Sunday and came around to score on Branyan's homer. When Abreu scored, he tied baseball legend Joe DiMaggio for 90th all-time in runs with 1,390. He's seventh on the active list.

Santana: He's doing it quietly, but the 28-year-old right-hander is consistently putting up pretty good numbers for the Angels, especially of late. In his past four starts he's allowed a combined seven runs in 27 1/3 innings, good for an ERA in the mid-2's. But Sunday's game was also his first win of those four outings, as he's also consistently failed to get good run support from his batting brethren. He struck out eight, walked one and allowed six hits in his 7 2/3 innings Sunday, lowering his ERA to 3.89 and upping his win-loss record to 4-8.

The Bad:

Mental errors: The Angels made two of them in Sunday's game, and although neither ended up costing them in the run department, they made Santana's day a bit harder on the mound and allowed the Dodgers to put more pressure on him. In the third inning, Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. struck out swinging for what should have been the first out of the inning, but catcher Hank Conger never delivered the ball over to Kendrick at first base, appearing to argue with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Then, in the sixth inning, after the Dodgers scored their only run of the night, Santana had an easy opportunity to underhand-toss a Trent Oeltjen grounder to Kendrick for an out, but he bounced the throw and Oeltjen was safe.

Peter Bourjos: In a great reminder of what life's like as a young player, the Angels center fielder broke a six-game hitting streak with an 0-for-3 performance Sunday against Billingsley. By no means is his performance trending downward, but Bourjos simply had a bad day Sunday, striking out once and also coming up empty on the James Loney double in the sixth inning that scored the only Dodgers run. He overshot it, in fact, running a little past the ball than he'd probably like and watching it bounce off his wrist instead of into his glove. Maybe he was feeling a little pressure, as he was miked up during batting practice for ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast.

Patience: It's becoming a sad refrain for hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and the Angels, but this team just consistently fails to make opposing starters work hard. In facing Billingsley on Sunday, the Halos did finally break through in the seventh inning and produce some runs, but for the first six innings, they did absolutely nothing. Billingsley threw only 68 pitches through six innings, facing just two batters more than the minimum -- and he ended up going the full eight. Against teams such as the Dodgers, an approach like that might not cost them the game, but it will be harder to play successfully like that against the Tigers, who come in Monday for a three-game set.