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Dodgers home runs batter an Angels team going nowhere

LA heads into break having won 15 of last 17 games

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the 62nd year in a row, there won’t be a Freeway Series in the postseason. The Dodgers on Saturday battered a floundering Angels team that has been in free-fall mode for nearly two months. This one was a 7-1 victory that featured three home runs for the Dodgers, who finished off a four-game season sweep of the team from Anaheim.

The Angels were once 27-17 as late as May 24, in the top wild card spot in the American League and only a game back in the AL West. It wasn’t far too removed from this piece of divisional trivia from earlier this season:

Three of those teams are still in first place, but the wheels fell off for the Angels. They lost 14 straight games, most in franchise history, the bulk of which cost Joe Maddon his job. The Halos have somehow been even worse under interim manager Phil Nevin, who has served almost as many games on suspension (10) as he’s won at the helm (12) in Anaheim.

The Dodgers on Saturday delivered the Angels’ 36th loss in their last 48 games, getting several last licks in on a horse that’s been dead for a while.

Trea Turner got the Dodgers started with a home run in the first inning, then added a two-run shot in the third, his 11th career two-homer game and third with the Dodgers. Both Turner blasts were off lefty José Suarez, who also gave up a three-run shot to Max Muncy, continuing an odd month.

Muncy doesn’t have a single yet in July. He does have three home runs, two doubles, and 10 walks in his 52 plate appearances. He also has 19 strikeouts this month, giving him an eye-popping 61.5-percent three-true-outcome (homers, walks, strikeouts) rate.

Freddie Freeman chimed in as well, doubling before the Muncy home run, then adding his own long ball in the fifth against Angels right-hander Elvis Peguero. The home run gave Freeman 1,000 career runs batted in, the 298th player in major league history to reach that milestone.

Freeman, since finding out last Sunday that he wasn’t on the National League All-Star team, has 16 hits in 24 at-bats (.667) with five doubles and three home runs. He’s made just nine outs in six games.

The early offense was more than enough for Julio Urías, who walked nobody and struck out eight, not allowing a run until the seventh inning. Saturday marked the 11th time in 18 starts this year the left-hander allowed either zero or one run.

Urías lowered his ERA to 2.89, one of four Dodgers starters with a sub-3.00 ERA this season. He heads into the break leading the team in strikeouts (93), and his 96⅔ innings are a close second behind newly-minted All-Star Tyler Anderson.

Dodgers starting pitching carved up the Angels this season. Half of the four games featured no-hitter flirtations, and LA starters allowed only two runs on nine hits in 29⅔ innings.

In the two games of this series the Angels were without Mike Trout, who was a late scratch from the lineup just before Saturday’s game, but it’s hard to see how he could have possibly closed the gap. The Dodgers outscored the team from Anaheim 16-2 in this series, and outscored them 22-3 in the four-game season sweep.

The chasm between these two teams is vast, and the last two days made that abundantly clear.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Trea Turner 2 (14), Max Muncy (9), Freddie Freeman (13); Brandon Marsh (8)

WP — Julio Urías (8-6): 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts

LP — José Suarez (1-4): 3⅔ IP, 5 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

Up next

Sweet merciful rest with the All-Star break upon us, including a rare Sunday off day for the Dodgers. Five Dodgers players plus manager Dave Roberts and head athletic trainer Thomas Albert will represent the team in the midsummer classic on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. But after that, the next game that counts is Thursday night (7:09 p.m., ESPN), the first of a four-game series against the Giants in Los Angeles.