ANAHEIM -- Clayton Kershaw gave up a leadoff homer and recovered brilliantly on Tuesday night, holding the Angels to two runs over seven innings while leading the Dodgers to a 6-4 win, their fifth in a row and 13th in the last 15 games.
After serving up a home run to leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun -- a half-inning after Justin Ruggiano led off the game with his own homer -- Kershaw allowed only three other hits, struck out eight and gave up an unearned run to capture his 13th win and drop his ERA to 2.15. The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner surpassed 200 innings for the fifth time in the last six years -- he's at 201 -- and is 8-1 with a 0.98 ERA over his last 13 starts, striking out 128 and walking 12 during that span.
The Dodgers (80-58) regained the lead in the third inning, when Alex Guerrero scored on a wild pitch by Angels starter Andrew Heaney, then Los Angeles used a four-run sixth inning to pull away. Corey Seager plated a run on a ground-rule double, two additional runs scored on a couple of weak grounders and Chris Heisey added a sacrifice fly.
"This is the best pure baseball game I feel like we've played," Kershaw said. "Just as far as doing the little things. Moving guys over, situational hitting, sac flies, things like that. It seemed like it was so easy to score runs tonight."
Despite scoring nine combined runs in the last two games started by Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Angels (69-69) have now lost eight in a row to the Dodgers, their longest losing streak in the series. They fell 4 1/2 games back of the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League, while the rival Dodgers maintained their comfortable 8 1/2-game cushion in the NL West.
"We got five last night, we got four tonight, but we still lost," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "So I'm not gonna put a lot of thought into how we fared against those guys. We lost two ballgames. We know what we're up against."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Start off the right way: In just his second start of the season as the leadoff hitter, Ruggiano got the Dodgers on the board early with a home run to lead off the game. Ruggiano was on the Mariners' Triple-A team when he was acquired on Aug. 31, but has made an immediate impact. Since joining the Dodgers, Ruggiano is hitting .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in five games. More >
Kole world: The Angels finally caught some breaks in the seventh inning, when Seager booted a couple of ground balls at shortstop to load the bases with two outs. Then Kershaw balked in a run, making it 6-2 Dodgers, and walked the No. 9-hitting Taylor Featherston, who entered with a .168 batting average. Calhoun, who homered in the first and ripped a single in the third, came to the plate representing the potential tying run, but he was ruled on an appeal to third-base umpire Tripp Gibson to have offered at an 0-2 fastball in the dirt. Scioscia was ejected for arguing the call between innings.
"I didn't think I went," Calhoun said. "But that's what he called."
Beat the shift: In their four-run sixth inning, the Dodgers hit ground balls into the teeth of a drawn-in infield twice, but the Angels couldn't make a play at the plate either time. A.J. Ellis hit a slow chopper to third base, which scored Scott Van Slyke. Then Carl Crawford hit a grounder to Featherston, but catcher Chris Iannetta couldn't glove the throw home as L.A. pushed its lead to 5-1.
"We're clicking offensively, which is fun to be around," Ellis said. "Things like that are things that championship teams do. Just trying to create opportunities and take advantage of them when you do."
Dodger blues:Mike Trout struck out in his first two plate appearances, giving him eight punchouts in a span of 13 at-bats, and finished the night 0-for-2 with two walks. Trout is now 0-for-16 with eight strikeouts and two walks in his last four games against the Dodgers. The superstar center fielder walked against Juan Nicasio to start the eighth, but Albert Pujols, battling a sore foot, grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, even though Justin Turner slid to field the grounder and Utley took a few steps before throwing to first. More >
"We can't let up. Even if we clinch, we've got home field to fight for, so let's just keep going until the season ends. Then we start all over." -- Kershaw, on the Dodgers' growing lead in the NL West
"I just want to pitch better than what I did. Obviously he's gonna pitch well, but guys were grinding out at-bats and I should be doing the same on the mound." -- Heaney, on needing to keep the game closer against Kershaw
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Calhoun's leadoff homer off Kershaw came one day after he hit a home run against Greinke. Calhoun became the first player this season to homer against both of them, not to mention in back-to-back games.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Umpires confirmed an initial out call at first base in a critical moment in the bottom of the ninth. Utley rounded a slow roller by David DeJesus and threw wide of first base, but Adrian Gonzalez sprawled to his right to catch it while somehow keeping his foot on the bag. Instead of a two-run game with runners on the corners and one out, it was a two-run game with a man on third and two outs. Kenley Jansen then struck out Calhoun to end the game.
Scioscia was ejected for the third time this season and the 41st time in his 16-year career after the bottom of the seventh concluded for arguing Gibson's ruling that Calhoun swung at the final pitch of the inning.
"If you look at the replay. I think it was pretty obvious he checked his swing, and obviously the ump had a different opinion, and that's it," Scioscia said.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers:Mat Latos, who complained about manager Don Mattingly's quick hook in his last start, pitches to remain in the rotation in Wednesday's series finale, with a 7:05 p.m. PT start. Latos has a 6.56 ERA since joining the Dodgers and hasn't completed the fifth inning in any of his five starts for the club. He has a 2.84 ERA in two no-decision starts in his career against the Angels.
Angels:Garrett Richards opposes Latos in the series finale. The 27-year-old right-hander has given up five runs in 13 innings over his last two starts, against the Indians and Rangers, and boasts a 1.59 ERA in 22 2/3 career innings against the Dodgers. The last time Richards faced them, on Aug. 4, 2014, he pitched a shutout.