The good news for the Dodgers on Friday was that they broke out of their offensive slump. The bad news, however, was that Chad Billingsley couldn't hold a five-run lead as Mike Trout and the Angels captured the opener of the weekend Freeway Series 8-5 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Things looked great for the Dodgers when, four batters into the game, they already surpassed their run production from three games in Oakland. Bobby Abreu hit a three-run home run to right field in his first at-bat back in Anaheim since being released by the Angels on April 27, the trip around the bases made more smooth with the knowledge that the Angels are paying him roughly $8.6 million this season.
The Dodgers had gone seven full games and 249 plate appearances without a home run before Abreu's blast.
The Dodger fortunes looked even better in the top of the second inning when a walk and three singles led to two runs and a 5-0 lead. After getting no more than three hits in any of their three games in Oakland, the Dodgers had three hits in each of their first two innings in Anaheim.
Staked to a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the second, Billingsley seemed in line to pick up his fifth win of the season. Before the game, manager Don Mattingly talked about the inconsistency of Billingsley relative to his expectations.
"We look at the negative with Chad," Mattingly said. "You get a great game, and a great game, then you get a game where you're like, 'Ugh. What happened'?"
Tonight was an 'ugh' game from Billingsley.
Four hits and a sacrifice fly yielded three runs in the bottom of the second inning for the Angels, then the Halos added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, taking the lead on Trout's home run.
Billingsley allowed six runs on 10 hits in his five innings, failing to hold a 5-0 lead. It was the largest lead blown by the Dodgers this season, and dropped their record when scoring five runs or more this season to 29-2.
Mattingly before the game brought up past performance with Billingsley, noting he is in the top 10 in the National League in wins (tied for eighth), strikeouts (sixth), and innings pitched (seventh) since the beginning of 2008. Mattingly thinks people expect too much of Billingsley.
"Is it as much as you want? It never is. You always want more," Mattingly said. "But you still have to be somewhat realistic, and it's not worth beating this guy up all of the time."
Billingsley's performance on Friday, however, was worth the criticism.
- Blake Hawksworth allowed a run and a hit in his one inning of work for Class A Rancho Cucmonga on Friday night, striking out two in the first game of his rehab assignment. Hawksworth didn't allow a ball to be hit out of the infield, but fell victim to speed demon Billy Hamilton, who reached on a bunt single, stole his 83rd base of the season, and scored on a pair of ground balls.
- After collecting eight hits in 93 plate appearances in three games in Oakland, the Dodgers needed 23 plate appearances Friday night to get their ninth hit of the night.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. had two singles and scored twice in his first game batting second this season.
Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera each had three hits on the night.
- In addition to homering, Trout also scored from first base on a single in the sixth inning, when the Angels scored twice off reliever Jamey Wright. In 19 June games, Trout is hitting .392/.456/.570 with 21 runs scored, 13 RBI, and 11 stolen bases.
Home Runs: Bobby Abreu (2); Mike Trout (7)
WP - Dan Haren (5-7): 5 IP, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP - Chad Billingsley (4-6): 5 IP, 10 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Ernesto Frieri (8): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout