LOS ANGELES -- Juan Rivera drove in four runs, three of them with a tiebreaking, three-run, tiebreaking homer on the first pitch from the Los Angeles Angels' Jerome Williams in the bottom of the eighth inning, to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 5-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 55,279 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Rivera's decisive home run against his former team capped a four-run rally in the eighth against Williams, who had dominated the Dodgers all night to that point. That rally had begun after second-base umpire called Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon safe on a two-out stolen-base attempt, drawing a passionate argument from Angels manager Mike Scioscia -- although televised replays appeared to show Gordon getting his hand on the bag just before Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis tagged him on the left side.
Whatever works. With two outs and a man on third in the top of the first inning, the Dodgers employed a dramatic shift on switch-hitting Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales, who was batting from the left side against Aaron Harang. Morales hit what would have been a hard single up the middle and would have driven in the run. But instead, the ball was hit directly into the glove of Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, who never had to move and threw out Morales easily at first to end the inning and save the run.
Eight-five-million-dollar defense. Hours after finalizing his five-year, $85 million contract extension -- and one inning before delivering a game-tying, RBI single at a critical point in the game -- Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier made a diving catch of a sinking line drive by Maicer Izturis to end the top of the seventh, stranding Angels runners on first and third and saving at least one run at a point when the Dodgers already trailed 2-1.
Not his fault. Harang wasn't exactly dominating, but he wasn't exactly bad, either. In fact, with the Dodgers playing their 19th consecutive game without an off-day, Harang gave them length -- he went seven innings and threw a season-high 118 pitches -- and a strong performance, allowing zero earned runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts and whacked his ERA down to 3.59.
So close. In the top of the third, an inning in which he suddenly had trouble finding the strike zone, Harang appeared to have escaped another jam when Morales, again with the shift on, hit a grounder right to second baseman Adam Kennedy with the bases loaded and two outs. But the ball appeared to take a bad hop, and Kennedy wound up booting it for an error, allowing Morales to be safe at first and Jerome Williams to cross the plate with the first run of the game.
Adding insult. With the Dodgers rallying in the fourth -- they already had scored once to tie the game -- Kennedy stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. But then, Kennedy snuffed out that threat by grounding into an inning-ending double play.
Victimized again. And then, Harang's defense let him down again in the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Williams hit a grounder that Kennedy fielded flawlessly. But when Kennedy tried to flip to second for the force, Gordon was late arriving. Gordon still got there in time for the out, but in his rush to get there, he failed to catch the ball, allowing Morales to cross home with the Angels' second run, making it 2-1.