Still playing in the shadow of the team from up the Santa Ana Freeway, the Anaheim Angels quietly have been playing sensational baseball.
They made it two in a row over that more renowned team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a 6-4 victory Tuesday night.
The win, the Angels' fourth in a row and 20th in 23 games, kept them 3 ½ games in front of Texas in the AL West. Anaheim's 46-29 record also is the best mark after 75 games in franchise history. The 1982 club was 45-30.
The Dodgers, now 0-2 under new manager Glenn Hoffman, lost for the eighth time in 11 games and are 13 ½ games behind NL West leader San Diego.
"They (the Dodgers) are who they are, and we're trying to battle for recognition," said Anaheim manager Terry Collins, a minor-league player and manager in the Dodgers' organization for 15 years.
"This team really deserves recognition."
The Angels, who lost all four meetings with the Dodgers last season in the inaugural year of interleague play, beat them Tuesday night by again pouncing on their bullpen.
Cecil Fielder singled home two runs in the seventh inning after Los Angeles starter Dave Mlicki, shaken up in a collision with teammate Wilton Guerrero in the fifth inning, left after six innings. The Dodgers were ahead 3-2 at the time.
Reliever Will Brunson gave up a single and two walks and was replaced by Jim Bruske with one out. Fielder greeted Bruske with his single, then Matt Walbeck singled in another run to chase Bruske and put the Angels up by two.
The Dodgers closed within 5-4 on Eric Young's run-scoring groundout in the eighth, but Darin Erstad's RBI single in the bottom of the inning, his third hit of the game, restored Anaheim's two-run cushion.
Pep Harris (1-0) pitched one-plus innings for the win, and Rich DeLucia got the final out for his second save. Brunson (0-1) took the loss in his second major league appearance.
A night earlier, the Dodgers' bullpen blew a 4-1 lead, then Bruske walked home the deciding run in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss to Anaheim.
"I think every bullpen goes through periods when they're struggling," DeLucia said, recalling that Anaheim's relievers had one difficult period earlier this season. "They just have to keep battling and get back on a roll."
Mlicki, who bruised his left jaw in the collision, was heading to cover first base on Erstad's grounder. Guerrero charged in to get the ball, bobbled it, then bumped into Mlicki.
Mlicki pitched the rest of that inning and warmed up for the seventh, but felt dizzy and was replaced by Brunson. Mlicki had won two of three starts since coming to the Dodgers in the trade that sent Hideo Nomo to the New York Mets, and had not given up an earned run in 22 innings when he left the game.
Mlicki allowed two unearned runs and six hits.
"He felt ill after getting hit in the jaw and that's why we came out there," Hoffman said. "He gave a brave effort in the sixth, but when he went back out there for the seventh, he signaled to me and said he couldn't go any further."
Hoffman, promoted from Albuquerque to the Dodgers when Bill Russell was fired late Sunday, has a simple goal for the team now.
"Try to get a victory, just win a game and build off that," Hoffman said. "I see a lot of determination. It's just a question of getting things turned around."
After leading off the Dodgers' second inning with his third homer, Paul Konerko singled in another run in the fourth.
The Angels evened it 2-2 in the fourth on a double-play grounder and a run-scoring singles by Orlando Palmeiro. Fielding errors by shortstop Juan Castro and Guerrero allowed Jim Edmonds and Fielder to reach base, and both Anaheim runs were unearned.
Eric Karros put Los Angeles ahead 3-2 with an RBI double in the fifth.
Anaheim rookie Jarrod Washburn gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings.
Notes: The Dodgers switched pitcher Ramon Martinez from the 15-disabled list to the 60-day DL. He's scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder June 30. Los Angeles also optioned infielder Alex Cora to Albuquerque and called up third baseman Adrian Beltre from San Antonio. ... The crowd was 43,719, the second consecutive sellout for the interleague series that resumes tonight at Dodger Stadium. ... Mlicki was coming off a 5-0 win at Colorado, when he became just the eighth pitcher to throw a shutout at Coors Field. ... Anaheim was without outfielder Tim Salmon, who had a cortisone shot for a strained ligament in the bottom of his left foot. He is expected to be out about two games.
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