Published June 12, 2012
LOS ANGELES – Dodgers manager Don Mattingly rolled the dice and Albert Pujols made him pay.
The Angels had Mike Trout on second base representing the go-ahead run in the ninth inning with Pujols at the plate and first base open, but Mattingly decided against walking him and pitching to cleanup hitter Mark Trumbo.
Pujols muscled a broken-bat single into left field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning on a 3-1 pitch off Kenley Jansen, lifting the Los Angeles Angels to 3-2 victory over the Dodgers on Monday night.
"It's not a great choice either way," Mattingly said of pitching to Pujols or Trumbo. "It's a situation where you pick your poison. We feel like Kenley can go after anyone."
The attendance was announced at 50,559 at Dodger Stadium, but it appeared many fans stayed home to watch the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup for their first title.
The Dodgers' lead in the National League West was reduced to 4½ games over San Francisco. The Angels moved within 2½ games of Texas in the American League West, the closest they've been since April 12.
Dee Gordon had two hits and a stolen base, and A.J. Ellis walked four times for the Dodgers.
Trout began the rally in the ninth with a one-out walk and stole second easily, but Torii Hunter struck out. With Pujols due up, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and the Dodgers infield joined Jansen on the mound.
Trumbo is hitting .325 with a team-leading 14 homers and 39 RBIs, so the Dodgers decided to pitch to Pujols.
"If we want to be a good team, we want to go deep with our lineup," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The way Mark's swinging the bat, it's going to give Albert more looks. We've got to keep that going."
Pujols wasn't offended the Dodgers decided to pitch to him
"I never think like that," the Angels' slugger said when asked if he was surprised he wasn't given an intentional walk. "I go up with the mind that they're going to pitch to me and I look for a good pitch to hit. He pitched me tough; the pitch was not a good pitch to hit."
The Angels rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. Trout homered in the fourth inning off Dodgers starter Chris Capuano and added an RBI single in the sixth to tie it. He then scored the go-ahead run from second base on Pujols' hit.
Jason Isringhausen (2-0), one of four Angels relievers, got one out for the win. Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Jansen (4-1) pitched one inning for the Dodgers.
Capuano gave up two runs and eight hits in five-plus innings, missing a chance to join the Cardinals' Lance Lynn and the Mets' R.A. Dickey with a major league-leading nine wins.
Angels starter Garrett Richards was coming off his first career major league victory last Tuesday against Seattle, but struggled to throw strikes. He walked five in five innings, but gave up only two runs — one earned — and five hits to keep the Angels close.
The Angels missed several chances to score off Capuano early, stranding seven baserunners in the first three innings. They had five hits and three walks through three innings, but were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and trailed, 2-0.
The Angels finally broke through against Capuano in the fourth inning on Trout's home run, cutting the Dodgers' lead to 2-1, but missed a chance for more. Just before Trout hit Capuano's 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats, Richards was picked off first base by Capuano.
Trout's RBI single on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth tied the game at 2.
"I just tried to shorten up my swing," said Trout, who raised his average to .354. "It's that two-strike approach; you're in battle-mode. Sometimes is helps me. With no strikes I know I start to get big (with his swing)."
The Dodgers also missed scoring opportunities, particularly in the fifth inning when Bobby Abreu's grounder hit Gordon, who was attempting to steal third on the pitch, and he was automatically out, ending the inning.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first, getting plenty of help from the Angels in the process. Richards walked two batters and had a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second base.
Trout was unable to pick up Richards' throw cleanly in center field for another error, allowing Elian Herrera to score from second base with the second run of the inning.
Andre Ethier drove in the first run with a groundout, scoring Gordon from third.
NOTES: Angels outfielders Torii Hunter and Trout were named the American League co-players of the week for the week ending Sunday. Hunter hit .500 (11 for 22) with four homers, 10 RBIs and 10 runs scored, and Trout hit .520 (13 for 25) with 10 runs scored and four stolen bases. . Dodgers OF Matt Kemp (hamstring) took batting practice before Monday's game but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said there is no timetable for Kemp's return. . Angels pitcher Jered Weaver (back) threw off the slope of the mound Monday and could progress to a full bullpen workout in a couple days. If there are no setbacks, Weaver could return to the active roster sometime next week. . The Dodgers will give away Mike Scioscia bobblehead dolls to fans who attend Tuesday's game between the Dodgers and Angels. Scioscia, in his 13th season as the Angels manager, played 13 seasons for the Dodgers. . Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe (wrist) was activated from the disabled list Monday.