Freeway Series draws to a close in Anaheim

( - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim know that C.J. Wilson will need to play a key role in their chase for a playoff spot.

Wilson will try to work back into form on Thursday night when the Angels cap their Freeway Series with the last of four straight meetings with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The left-handed Wilson is just 8-7 with a 4.74 earned run average, recently returning from a right ankle sprain that put him on the shelf for about a month.

He made his first start since July 9 on Saturday, but lasted just 1 1/3 innings in a setback to Tampa Bay. Wilson gave up six runs on six hits and two walks in what was the second-shortest outing of his career. He was credited with just one-third of an inning of work on May 11, 2012 before exiting following a rain delay.

"We need him. We need him to figure it out," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Wilson. "We need him to get back in to making pitches and being effective."

The 33-year-old has a 4.97 ERA in three previous meetings, including two starts, with the Dodgers without a decision.

While the Angels need Wilson to help lead their staff, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been as an effective No. 3 starter this season as you can get. Slotting in behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, Ryu has gone 12-5 with a 3.39 earned run average.

The 27-year-old Ryu looked like an ace the only other time he faced the Angels, posting a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts on May 28 of last year.

Ryu takes the mound tonight looking to win a fourth straight decision. He has won three starts in a row before getting a no-decision on Saturday versus the Chicago Cubs. The left-hander yielded a pair of runs on nine hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out six.

The Angels won the opener of this four-game set on Monday in Los Angeles, but have lost two straight since. The series shifted to Anaheim last night and the Dodgers came away with a 2-1 win.

Dan Haren snapped a career-worst five-start slide, holding the Angels to just a run over 7 1/3 innings. He took a perfect game into the sixth inning and gave up only three hits against his former club.

"I just wanted to do good for the guys," said Haren. "I didn't want to be the weakest link. Mentally, this really helps."

Matt Kemp hit a solo home run, giving him six homers over his last nine games. Andre Ethier had a pair of hits and drove in the other run for the Dodgers, who improved to 11-1 on the season when Kemp goes deep.

Their second straight win also has them 2 1/2 games up on the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West.

Rookie Matt Shoemaker was tagged with both runs on six hits while striking out five in six innings to absorb the loss.

Angels star Mike Trout went 0-for-4 as his 20-game interleague hit streak came to an end. Hank Conger, meanwhile, broke up Haren's perfect-game bid with a one-out single in the sixth.

"He worked both sides of the plate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Haren. "He hit his spots tonight. He pitched a good game."

The Angels remain two games back of the first-place Oakland Athletics in the AL West.

The Dodgers and Angels split four meetings last season, with each team winning twice at home.