Angels Sweep Luckless Dodgers

In a perfect world, when Jeff Kent doubled in Juan Pierre in the ninth inning, it would have been the first run of the game and Takashi Saito would be warm and ready to come in and close it out. But in reality, the run in the ninth only spoiled the Angels shutout and they completed the sweep with a 4-1 victory.

Mike Scioscia would be excused if he chartered and plane and flew the entire squad to Las Vegas. With things breaking as well as they did all afternoon for Anaheim, everyone would have come home with a pocket full of tin and a smile on their faces.

After a two-out error in the first inning gave the Angels their first run, a bewildering array of bleeders, scuffers, trickelers and chops eluded the Dodger fielders in the third inning, and with a crucial misplay that went for a hit thrown in, it cost them three runs.

But the offense was again out to lunch through most of the game or the Anaheim starting staff is the best in the known universe.

In the three-game set, swept by the Angels to give them 17 wins over the Dodgers in the last 20 games in the Big A, Los Angeles scored four runs to 19 for Scioscia's band of opportunists, a margin that will probably get you a sweep nine of ten times.

Two plays decided the game, both coming when the Angels scored their four runs. And both of them pivoted on plays not made by Wilson Betemit at third base, again drawing the starting spot with his Mendoza-line batting average.

He misplayed a ground ball in the first inning with two out, giving the Angels another chance and they took advantage of it, Casey Kotchman singling Vlad Guerrero, who had double, home with the first run.

Then in the bewildering fifth inning, Anaheim batters didn't hit a ball with any authority, yet they came up with three runs.

Leading off, Garret Aybar chopped a ball off the plate and Derek Lowe -- who apparently forgot his rabbit's foot this day -- fielded it behind the mound but threw late to first. With Aybar breaking for second and Jeff Kent covering, Bengie Molina hit a soft, 15-hopper in the hole that hardly made the outfield grass, Aybar taking third.

A ground ball to Nomar Garciaparra resulted in an out at the plate, Aybar knocking Russell Martin on his back pocket at the plate in the process. Lowe then fanned the leadoff man Reggie Willits for the second out.

Then it was Betemit again, gloving a ground ball from Orlando Cabrera, fumbling it for a moment, then throwing late to first base to load the bases. It was charitably called an infield hit but that decision changed only the number of earned runs Lowe would surrender this day.

Rafael Furcal went well behind second to snag the next grounder but in an off-balence throw led to an error and two runs scored. Then, incredibly, the fifth ground ball hit of the inning drove in the final run.

After the first inning, when Furcal and Garciaparra singled, the Dodgers never threatened until the ninth. Martin singled in the fifth for the third Dodger hit, then two in the ninth wrapped up the offense.

Lowe came into the game second in the National League in ground ball outs and collected another dozen. Add those to the six strikeouts he recorded and it is apparent he did as well as could be expected.

Lowe gave up nine hits and four runs, three earned, while walking none and striking six in his second complete game of the season. He has all three of the Dodgers' complete games in the last two seasons.

It was the ground balls that either weren't or couldn't be handled that done him in.
 Score by innings
Dodgers	000 000 001-1
Angels	100 300 00x-4

 Dodgers	at r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  0  1  0  .299
Pierre cf	4  1  1  0  .27
Garciaparra 1b	4  0  0  1  .289
Kent 2b	        3  0  1  1  .286
Saenz dh	4  0  0  0  .216
Martin c	3  0  1  0  .318
Ethier rf	2  0  0  0  .277
Betemit 3b	3  0  0  0  .179
Clark lf	3  0  0  0  .256
 Gonzalez ph-lf	1  0  0  0  .259
   Totals	29 1 5 1
   Angels	33 4 9 3

 Error- Betemit (2), Furcal (6). 2B- Kent (11).
RBI- Kent (23). LOB- Dodgers 4, Angels -. DP-
Martin and Furcal; Lowe and Garcia.

 Dodgers	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe (4-5)	8.0  9  4-3  0  6  3.84
 WP- Lowe. HBP- Ethier. T- 2:21. Att- 44,301.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Reciting the ugly numbers: The Dodgers lost their fifth straight in Anaheim, running their record against the Angels at home to 10-21 and 26-33 overall. ...The game was played before a capacity crowd of 44,301. All three games of were sellouts, and the total of 133,023 was the largest for a three-game series at Angel Stadium since it was renovated in 1998. ...Jason Schmidt threw 100 pitches, counting warmups, in a similated game Sunday morning and displayed a markedly improved fastball. ...The second game of the Angels series was over in a snappy 2:26 but it doesn't compare to "Gentleman Al" Downings mark set 35 years ago when he pitched a two-hitter in Dodger Stadium in just 1 hour and 30 minutes. ...The designated hitter role just doesn't seem to suit Russell Martin. Filling the manufactured slot in American League lineups, he was 0-for 4 Saturday night, running his career record to 0-for 8. The youngster leads all Major League receivers in runs (27) and stolen bases (7) while being tied for first in walks (18). The second-year backstop is second in hits (47) and RBI (26) while ranking third in doubles (12). .

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