Dan Haren put his team in an early hole by giving up five runs in the first two innings, then the Angels unleashed a barrage of offense -- hitting, running, bunting, executing and Mike Trouting their way to an 8-5 victory in front of an Angel Stadium crowd of 44,548, the largest regular-season attendance in the nine years this facility has gone by that name.
"That's the difference between the last couple months and the first month of the season," said Haren, who shut the Dodgers out in the next three innings to beat the odds and qualify for the win. "The first month of the season, we'd be down 5-0, we'd have no chance."
But these Angels -- an awfully different group from the one that sleepwalked through the season's first four weeks -- are a much more resilient bunch.
And a heck of a lot more successful.
After opening the season 6-14, tying the franchise's worst 20-game start, the Angels welcomed this kid named Mike Trout and took off, going a Major League-best 33-18 since the rookie's April 28 callup. They've recently won 10 of their last 13 games, have taken four out of five from a Dodgers team that sports the National League's best record and are now a season-best seven games over .500.
Friday's comeback marked their largest since July 20 of last year.
"Early in the year, it was non-existent," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our offense was pretty much not happening at all. A game like this in April, it was tough for us to come back into."
Fittingly, it was Trout who put the finishing touches on the Angels' eight unanswered runs, hitting a fourth-inning solo homer off Chad Billingsley to put his team up, 6-5, and scoring all the way from first base on a single
two innings later to make it a three-run game.
With one out, catcher Bobby Wilson on second and a full count on Torii Hunter in the bottom of the sixth, Trout took off, avoiding a line-drive to right field, paying little attention to third-base coach Dino Ebel and eventually sliding in well ahead of the relay throw to continue his nightly brilliance.
"It was 3-2 and I got a good jump off first," Trout and his .338 batting average said. "When I looked up, [the ball] almost hit me. I just ran hard the whole time until I got that stop sign, and I didn't see it, so I just kept running."
Starting on six days' rest -- which has amounted to a 5.03 ERA in his career -- Haren gave up five runs on six hits and three walks in the first two frames, throwing 46 pitches and surrendering a first-inning three-run homer to former Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu, only his second in 49 games this year.
Haren settled down after that, hurling three scoreless innings despite having a runner on in each of them.
Then, Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs, Jason Isringhausen and Ernesto Frieri -- members of a bullpen that posted a 4.70 ERA in the first 32 games and a 1.92 mark in the 39 that have followed -- shut the Dodgers down.
"I have to get better," said Haren, who's now 5-7 with a 4.24 ERA. "I don't want to bring the team down. We had so much momentum coming into the series and we're playing such good baseball. It was nice for the team to pick me up. Hopefully I can pick them up next time."
Picking up Haren began with a three-run second, an inning that began with back-to-back singles by Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo and saw the Angels score on an RBI double by Alberto Callaspo, a sacrifice fly by Howie Kendrick and a groundout by Erick Aybar.
In the fourth, they got three more on an RBI triple by Aybar -- who now has a season-high eight-game hitting streak -- a successful suicide squeeze by Wilson and Trout's seventh homer.
With eight runs on 12 hits in the Freeway Series opener, the Angels have scored 26 runs on 37 hits over their last three games -- after totaling 14 runs in the seven that preceded it.
"I felt good about the way it was going early," said Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly, whose club has dropped four straight. "We scored the first couple innings and ran up [Haren's] pitch count pretty good as far as getting to the bullpen early. But they got back in it quick."
They can do that sort of thing now.
"Our recent success has given us more confidence to come back," Trumbo said. "Going down early is not the end of the world anymore."