Baseball / Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon throws out the Los Angeles Angels' Hank Conger after spearing a sharp ground ball in the third inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Haren baffles Angels as Dodgers win, 2-1

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After going toe-to-toe against a string of heavyweights, this was supposed to be the palooka on a Los Angeles Angels fight card that, since the All-Star break, has featured the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez, who have six Cy Young Awards among them.

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren was so shaky in his previous five starts, going 0-5 with a 10.03 earned-run average, that he was on the verge of losing his rotation spot.

Haren gave up 26 earned runs and 36 hits, including six home runs, in 23 1/3 innings of those games, and it wasn't like he was getting beat up by National League powers; three of the losses were to the last-place Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, and one was to the lowly San Diego Padres.

But Wednesday night, facing the team with the second-best record in baseball and an offense that ranks second in the American League in runs, Haren was king of the hill.

Using the deft touch of a featherweight champion, Haren took a perfect game into the sixth inning and limited the Angels to one run and three hits in 7 1/3 innings of the Dodgers' 2-1 victory in Angel Stadium.

The Angels threatened off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth when Kole Calhoun led off with a single to center and stole second on a 3-and-1 pitch that Mike Trout missed for strike two.

But Jansen struck out Trout with a 96-mph fastball, he got Albert Pujols to fly to center and elevated a 2-2 fastball that Josh Hamilton swung through for a game-ending strikeout.

Jansen's 32nd save helped the Dodgers maintain their 21/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, while the Angels remain two games behind Oakland in the AL West.

If the performance by Haren (9-9) looked familiar to Angels fans, it should have. It was vintage Jered Weaver, with Haren, like the Angels ace so often does, keeping hitters off-balance with a wide array of off-speed pitches and throwing nothing faster than 90 mph.

Moving his cut fastball, split-fingered fastball and slow curve all around the strike zone, Haren struck out four and walked none. He did not go to a three-ball count until the fifth inning, when he threw three straight balls to Howie Kendrick before rebounding to strike out the Angels' second baseman.

The Dodgers backed Haren with two big defensive plays. In the third inning, Hank Conger sent a grounder to the second-base hole that appeared headed for right field before Dee Gordon made a diving stop and, from the seat of his pants in shallow right, threw to first for the out.

After Conger broke up Haren's perfect game with a one-out single to left in the sixth, he took off for second on a full-count pitch that pinch-hitter David Freese lined into center field for a single.

The Angels have advanced from first to third on singles a major league-leading 85 times, and Conger did not hesitate around second as he headed for third.

But Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig charged the ball, fielded it cleanly and fired a one-hop rocket to third baseman Justin Turner, who applied the tag on Conger for the second out. Calhoun lined out to first to end the inning.

Manager Don Mattingly left Haren in to face the heart of the Angels order: Trout, Pujols and Hamilton.

Haren retired the trio on eight pitches in the seventh, Trout on a popup to second base, Pujols on a grounder to third and Hamilton on a grounder to second,.

Haren was pulled after Erick Aybar led off the eighth with a bunt single, and Aybar eventually scored on Chris Iannetta's sacrifice fly, but Brandon League got Freese to ground out to end the eighth, and Jansen closed the game out in the ninth.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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