ANAHEIM, Calif. – They say "if it's not broke, don't fix it," but what if it's broke and you refuse to fix it?
For the second straight game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to go to the bullpen rather than stick with his staring pitcher in the fifth inning, both times, the move backfired.
Relief pitcher Chris Hatcher surrendered four runs — two charged to Ross Stripling — as his roller coaster season continued in the Dodgers 7-4 loss to the Angels on Thursday night in Anaheim.
"I felt confident that Hatch could get the out there," Roberts said of his decision after the game. "I could have left Ross in, but I liked the matchup between Hatcher and Giavotella."
Mike Trout had a home run, three RBI and two runs scored as the Halos took three of four from their neighbors to the north in the battle for LA known as the Freeway Series.
"The atmosphere is great during this series," Trout said of the battle for LA. "it was a big win for us tonight."
Trout was responsible for the Angels first two runs of the game when he scored Kole Calhoun with an RBI single in the first inning and then sent a Stripling curveball into the rock fountain in centerfield in the third inning for his 10th home run of the season, and second in as many games.
Trout tacked on a third RBI in the bottom of the sixth inning when he hit into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded.
Just a few days after his first major league win against the Cardinals, Stripling suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts in 4 and 2/3 innings.
"It's my game, I want to be the one to do it, to finish it, but you can't be angry when he [Roberts] goes to the bullpen in a situation like that," Stripling said of his outing. "When you have major league hitters seeing all my stuff two times and then coming up a third time I need to start mixing in something they haven't seen."
The rookie right-hander got into trouble in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff single to Gregorio Petit. Two batters later, he wanted no part of Trout when issued him a free pass on four straight pitches, instead opting to pitch to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded.
"I was being cautious, but I wanted to throw him strikes," Stripling said about the third at-bat to Trout. "I just got down 2-0 and basically put him on. I wasn't mad that I walked him, but I didn't want to beat me again."
Stripling punched out Pujols, but beamed C.J. Cron on the next pitch — his last — and Hatcher allowed a two-run single to Johnny Giavotella to give the Halos the lead.
"Poor execution," Hatcher said matter of factly about what happened. "Something's going on to cause it. I know I can do it, I did it at the end of the year last year, but I just have to keep going out there and working on it."
Former Angel Howie Kendrick torched his former team with a two-run triple in the third inning, but that was the only offense the Dodgers seemed to be able to muster in the game.
"I've got a lot of experience with seeing those balls go down there [the right field line], so I was just trying to make sure I got to third base," Kendrick said of the triple. "We came out today and swung the bats well, but they did a good job making a comeback."
The Angels planted their flag firmly in Los Angeles soil for the first time since 2012, as they finally won the Freeway Series and their sixth game in seven tries overall.
The loss should be more alarming for the Dodgers who have lost their last four games when a pitcher other than Clayton Kershaw takes the mound. As mentioned, it's the first time they lost the Freeway Series to the Angels since 2012, the last time they lost the division and missed the playoffs.
That season, Los Angeles (86-76), finished second in the NL West as they struggled to stay above .500 and chased the San Francisco Giants for most of the year. If that storyline seems a little too familiar, it's because it is. The Dodgers fall to .500 again at 21-21, and are now 3.5 games behind the rival Giants for first place in the NL West after the three-time World Series champions won their eighth straight game earlier in the evening.
Players of the Game:
Mike Trout: 2-for-3 with a home run, 3 RBI and two runs scored.
Johnny Giavotella: Game-winning two-run single.
Howie Kendrick: Two-run triple.
1. Halos Heating Up: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim defeated the Dodgers in the Freeway Series for the first time since 2012 and have now won six of their last seven games overall. Since 2005, the Angels are 22-11 against the boys in blue at the Big A, and now hold an all-time record of 61-49 against their rivals to the north.
2. Angel in the Outfield: Mike Trout hit his 74th Career home run at Angel Stadium passing Bobby Grich for 10th all-time in franchise history. His stolen base in the first inning, was his 117th of his career, also good for 10th place on the all-time Angels' list.
3. Seager Streaking: Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop, Corey Seager, improved his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games and is now batting .381 with three doubles, five homers and seven RBI during that span.
Seager now has a 10 game hitting streak. — Brenden Mullins (@CharlieDodger3) May 20, 2016
Dodgers (21-21): Los Angeles continues its journey down the I-5 South as they make a stop in San Diego for the first of a three-game set with the Padres. Scott Kazmir on the mound on Friday at 7:40PM PST.
Angels (19-22): Anaheim hosts the Baltimore Orioles for the first of a three-game series on Friday.