ANAHEIM, Calif.--The Angels scored five runs off Zack Greinke, the Dodgers' No. 2 starter, on Monday night and three runs off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night, but they had no answer for the riddle that has become Hyun-Jin Ryu on Thursday night.
Ryu gave up two hits in seven shutout innings, striking out four and walking one, in a 7-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 44,561 in Angel Stadium, the Dodgers winning the final three games of the four-game Freeway Series to extend their National League West lead over San Francisco to 31/2 games.
Combined with the two-hit shutout he threw against the Angels on May 28, 2013, in Dodger Stadium, Ryu (13-5) has given up only four hits in 16 career innings against the Angels, striking out 11.
Angels starter C.J. Wilson, on the other hand, lasted 52/3 innings Thursday night, the left-hander giving up four runs and six hits, striking out five, walking four and hitting a batter. And that actually qualified as an improvement for Wilson, which tells you how things have gone for him lately.
Wilson, in the third year of a five-year, $77.5-million contract, entered 2014 as the team's No. 2 starter but has barely pitched well enough to warrant retaining a rotation spot, giving up 29 earned runs and 43 hits in 232/3 innings of his last six starts, walking 14 and striking out 21.
But it's not as if the Angels, who lost three straight for the first time since a season-high four-game losing streak May 30-June 3 and are now three games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West, have any other options.
With left-hander Tyler Skaggs sidelined until at least September because of a flexor tendon strain, the Angels have virtually no margin for injury in a rotation that is led by Garrett Richards and Jered Weaver and is rounded out by the struggling Wilson (8-8), the inconsistent but improving Hector Santiago and the pleasantly surprising but relatively inexperienced Matt Shoemaker.
Their next-best starting pitching options are triple-A left-handers Wade LeBlanc (8-2, 4.04 ERA in 18 starts) and Randy Wolf (5-1, 4.17 in eight starts).
The Dodgers had a similar lack of depth before acquiring veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez from Philadelphia on Thursday. Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto has been on the lookout for starters, but acquiring quality pitchers after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline can be "really hard," as Dipoto said.
"The idea that you can make the perfect acquisition for your rotation in August is not great, but there are going to be available options," Dipoto said. "We just have to determine what the right timing is, or if we need one."
The Angels did add more bullpen depth Thursday, placing a claim on and working out a trade for Cleveland right-hander Vinnie Pestano, who was one of the league's better relievers in 2011 and 2012, when he went 4-5 with a 2.45 ERA in 137 games, striking out 160 and walking 48 in 132 innings.
Pestano, 29, who will report to triple-A Salt Lake, struggled with elbow injuries and inconsistency in 2013, splitting the season between Cleveland and triple-A Columbus. He is physically sound but has spent most of this season at triple A, going 2-4 with a 1.78 ERA in 32 games, with 37 stikeouts in 301/3 innings.
"He's got his strikeout pitch back," Dipoto said. "He appears to be throwing the ball real well. When he's right, his fastball is 92-93 mph, and the ball has extra hop through the zone. He has an effective slurve and a slider. For a lot of reasons, he's a good fit for us."
Pestano could work his way into a vastly improved Angels bullpen later this month or after rosters exand Sept. 1. The Angels won the 2002 World Series with a middling rotation and deep and powerful bullpen, and that blueprint might be their only way to play deep into October this fall.
"The bullpen right now, for the first time in three years, is deep enough to absorb the short starts," Dipoto said. "That's one reason we've added so much in the bullpen, to give ourselves the ability to shorten the game because it's much more difficult to acquire the starting pitching equivalent (of Pestano)."
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