LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kole Calhoun charged hard to his right and watched his footwork while he fielded the single to right field. He knew Cody Bellinger would be sprinting for home, so the game was riding on this throw to the plate.
Calhoun’s preparation resulted in a nearly perfect play, and the Los Angeles Angels slipped out of Dodger Stadium with yet another win in the Freeway Series.
Calhoun threw out Bellinger at the plate to end a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night, making the final defensive gem in a shiny cluster for the surging Angels.
“That’s as good as hitting a homer right there,” said Calhoun, who also had a homer and two doubles. “As a defender, that’s something you dream of.”
Calhoun’s big play was the result of many small calculations, according to the big-armed outfielder who emphatically ended the Angels’ third straight win over their crosstown rivals.
From the moment pinch-hitter Enrique Hernández drilled his single off Angels closer Hansel Robles, Calhoun knew the ball’s pace would give him enough time to throw home if he fielded it cleanly. And because he knows Dodgers third base coach Dino Ebel intimately from Ebel’s many years on former Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s staff, Calhoun was certain Bellinger would be running.
All he needed was a clean pick and a strong throw — and the former Gold Glove winner was sharp enough to get Bellinger easily.
“In that spot, it still takes a heck of a play by Calhoun,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The arm strength, the accuracy — he’s still got to make a good play.”
Mike Trout hit a 454-foot tiebreaking homer and also made a perfect 260-foot throw to get Max Muncy at the plate in the second inning for the Angels. Ebel spent years working on Trout’s throwing arm, transforming the superstar into an even better player.
“Both of those are on me,” Ebel said after Bellinger and Muncy were thrown out at the plate by two of his former Angels pupils. “For me, it’s a good send (in the ninth). You’ve got to take the chance there and be aggressive. That last situation, a do-or-die throw, and Kole put it on the money.”
The Dodgers actually made three outs at home plate due to excellent plays by Calhoun, Trout and Albert Pujols, who got a bases-loaded force in the sixth.
“It took some perfect throws for our guys to get thrown out,” Hernández said.
Shohei Ohtani had a pinch-hit RBI single in the second inning as the Angels followed up a two-game sweep of the powerhouse Dodgers in Anaheim last month with another win 35 miles up the I-5 freeway. The Halos (53-49) are four games above .500 for only the second time since June 2018.
Corey Seager had two hits for the NL West-leading Dodgers, whose three-game winning streak ended with only their 13th loss in 53 home games this season.
The Dodgers had trimmed their deficit to 5-4 in the ninth after Justin Turner walked, advanced on Bellinger’s double and scored on Muncy’s sacrifice fly. Thanks to Calhoun’s arm, Robles got his 15th save despite allowing his first run since June 23, and just his second since May.
Kenta Maeda (7-7) recorded seven strikeouts while pitching four-hit ball into the fifth inning for the Dodgers, but Ohtani and Trout both touched him for key hits.
Félix Peña (8-3) followed opener Taylor Cole in the same Angels pitching combination that resulted in a no-hitter two starts ago, but Peña managed just 3 2/3 innings of three-hit ball this time.
The Dodgers got two runs during a three-hit, two-walk rally in the sixth. But Pujols saved a run with a nifty defensive play to save a run, and Calhoun hit his 22nd homer leading off the seventh.
After Muncy reached on an error and took off for home on Seager’s single to center in the second inning, Trout unleashed a throw that hit catcher Dustin Garneau’s glove on the fly, allowing him to tag out Muncy by a whisker.
Trout saw a replay shortly afterward and made sure to tell Calhoun that his throw had been clocked at 98 mph.
Trout then put his 33rd homer of the season — and 11th in 13 games — far beyond left field in the fifth inning. The two-time AL MVP has homered in three consecutive games for the 10th time in his career.
The Dodgers donated $40,135 — half of their nightly raffle jackpot — to the Tyler Skaggs Baseball Foundation in honor of the late Angels pitcher. Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, attended the game one day after family and friends gathered in Santa Monica for a memorial service . The Angels are 11-6 while grieving their teammate’s death.
Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.64 ERA) makes his 12th start of the season for the Dodgers in the Freeway Series finale against Jaime Barria (3-3, 7.36 ERA), who still hasn’t nailed down a spot in the Angels’ depleted rotation after getting blasted for 10 runs last week in Seattle.
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