Halos hang on after Aybar's homer in ninth

Halos hang on after Aybar's homer in ninth

Halos hang on after Aybar's homer in ninth
LOS ANGELES -- To take two games from the best team in baseball, while going 4-for-31 with runners in scoring position in the series, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his team was "fortunate."

On a night when it looked like missed opportunities would cost them, Erick Aybar hit his first home run of the season in the top of the ninth inning to give the Angels a 2-1 victory Wednesday and the series win against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.

The win was the fifth in the last six games for the Angels, all of which came on the road, and it was their 11th win in the last 15 against the Dodgers. They remain 3 1/2 games behind the American League West-leading Rangers.

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After a stretch in which the Angels went six straight games while scoring six or more runs, they managed only seven runs total in the series against the Dodgers. But the Angels got their sixth series win in their last seven sets.

"We squeaked by," Scioscia said. "On the offensive side, we had a lot of chances and just didn't convert early. It's going to catch up with you."

It almost did catch up with the Angels in the bottom of the ninth inning, too, when Ernesto Frieri allowed two men in scoring position with one out but managed to strike out Tony Gwynn and force former Angel Bobby Abreu to ground out to secure his sixth save.

Frieri has yet to allow a run in his 18 1/3 innings since being acquired from the Padres on May 3. And though he came close to surrendering that first run Wednesday night, he still had his electric fastball, which allowed him to pitch out of another jam.

"The difference between the guys that pitch out of it and the guys that give up runs is a very thin line," Angels starter C.J. Wilson said. "And Ernie's been very good at bending and not breaking. You see his fastball command, it seems like it gets better as the inning goes on. So he's able to paint those pitches and make good pitches."

By night's end, the Angels had left eight men on base and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. But because of a solid start from Wilson and scoreless relief from Frieri and LaTroy Hawkins (1-1), Alberto Callaspo's third home run of the season in the second inning and Aybar's home run in the ninth was all it took to seal the Angels' fifth straight series win over the Dodgers.

And while the Angels were struggling to knock runners in and looking like they were headed for another frustrating night, thanks to Wilson, the Dodgers were the frustrated ones.

Wilson got out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth by getting James Loney to fly out to center.

After surrendering his only run in the first inning on an Andre Ethier RBI double, Wilson settled down to pitch seven innings, giving up four hits and five walks in the no-decision. In his last five starts since May 22, Wilson in 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA. On the season, Wilson (7-4) leads the Angels in wins and starters' ERA (2.30).

"These are two teams that are prepared to play and making pitches and forcing you to earn your way," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Both sides were able to get out of some jams. Late there we gave ourselves a chance to win. But it's that type of series. They are playing well."

Even though Wilson continued his stretch of solid starts, he said with his team still looking up at the Rangers in the AL West, adjustments still have to be made.

Not until the team is on top looking down can it even recognize a good start. The Angels have got to be nitpicking every aspect of their game.

"Tonight, with the walks, that's really embarrassing," Wilson said. "I was upset about that, but other than that, as a starting pitcher, you've just got to make sure that you contain damage. I didn't throw as long of a game as I would liked because of that, because I threw too many pitches walking guys."

Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.