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Dodgers stuck in the middle again in loss to Angels

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Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels feasted on the soft and meaty underbelly of the Dodgers pitching staff, scoring five runs in the fifth and sixth innings en route to a 7-4 victory on Thursday night in Anaheim, capturing three of four games in the 2016 Freeway Series between the two interleague rivals.

Starting pitcher Ross Stripling was able to keep the mortal Angels at Bay through the first four innings, allowing single runs on an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the third inning, both by Mike Trout.

Stripling was allowed to face Trout a third time in the fifth inning, and with two runners on base and just one out with a 4-2 lead. He walked Trout to load the bases, but then struck out Albert Pujols looking. But before Stripling could fully escape the jam, he hit C.J. Cron with a pitch to bring in a run, making the game 4-3, ending his night on the mound.

Third time through the lineup this season, opposing batters have hit Stripling to the tune of .333/.476/.545.

Fade to oblivion

Chris Hatcher, far from his eighth-inning setup role, was still brought into an important spot, needing an out to get out of the sixth. Instead, he allowed a two-run single to Johnny Giovatella to surrender the lead, then allowed two more runs in the sixth inning to widen the Dodgers' deficit.

Hatcher's ERA on the season is now 6.35, his strikeout rate is down to 16.9 percent, and opposing batters are hitting .286/.390/.557 against Hatcher on the season.

Angels catcher Carlos Perez homered off Hatcher in the sixth inning, his first of the season. It was the fourth home run of the year for Hatcher, matching his total allowed in both 2014 and 2015. Those years featured 232 and 166 batters faced, respectively. So far in 2016, Hatcher has faced 83 batters, and one has to wonder when he'll be allowed to face an 84th.

Notes

Chase Utley had two hits and a walk, and he scored three times for the second time this season. He did not score three times in a game in 2015.

Cleanup hitter Howie Kendrick walked twice and had a two-run triple in the third inning that at the time gave the Dodgers a two-run lead. It was the second extra-base hit of the season for Kendrick.

Chin-hui Tsao, called up earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless eighth inning, retiring all three batters he faced.

The Dodgers fell to .500 (21-21) with the loss, now 3½ games behind San Francisco.

Up next

The Dodgers move further south on the 5, heading to San Diego for three games at Petco Park. The series opener on Friday night features a battle of left-handers, with Scott Kazmir pitching for the Dodgers and Christian Friedrich for the Padres.

Perhaps the more important matchup to watch is in Oklahoma City, where Julio Urias is scheduled to start against Salt Lake. For my money, someone else starts Friday for OKC, and Urias is on his way to San Diego. Whether he ultimately joins the Dodgers' rotation or bullpen, there is clearly room for him.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: Mike Trout (10), Carlos Perez (1)

WP - Jose Alvarez (1-1): 1⅔ IP, 1 strikeout

LP - Ross Stripling (1-3): 4⅔ IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Sv - Joe Smith (5): 1 IP, 1 strikeout