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Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — It was less than a week ago that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly started some of his his alternate players over part of his multi-million dollar, All-Star lineup — and on Monday night, those same stand-in players showed the “grit” that he referred to in his recipe for a successful ball club.
Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke put up four doubles between them as the Dodgers rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Angels 8-7.
Its no secret that the Dodgers have been playing sub-par, sloppy, frustrating baseball — and for the first few innings of Monday night’s game, they played even worse than that.
In the first inning, Matt Kemp dropped a fly ball by Albert Pujols in centerfield. Pujols went on to score on a throwing error by catcher Ramon Hernandez. The Angels led 2-0 by the bottom of the inning.
Gonzalez and Van Slyke struck back in the bottom of the second with back to back doubles to make it 2-1, and the tying run was at second with no outs. However, Hernandez struck out, Jerry Hairston Jr. grounded out, and Luis Cruz, yet again, flew out to center.
The Angels blew the game open in the fourth inning, with a Hank Conger single, followed by an Eric Aybar double, a Mike Trout triple, and a sacrifice by Pujols. The Angels pulled ahead 6-1.
Zack Greinke, who was facing a former club of his for the second consecutive start, wouldn’t see another inning, having given up six runs, four of them earned, of ten hits through four innings.
Gonzalez led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, and — to the surprise of Dodger fans — was brought home on a Ramon Hernandez sacrifice to right.
Then, perhaps it was the inspirational presence of astronaut and moon-walker, Dr. Buzz Aldrin, along with so many veterans, but the Dodgers’ big push then came in the fifth inning.
Luis Cruz led off the inning with a single, followed by another single, up the middle, by Juan Uribe, who entered the game to pinch hit for Matt Guerrier.
Mark Ellis doubled to left with one out to score both Cruz and Nick Punto, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
Matt Kemp struck out swinging, and again started hearing the Boo-Birds at Dodger Stadium, clearly frustrated with their former All-Star’s lack of production.
However, Gonzalez came up to the plate and connected for his third hit of the game — a single that scored ellis.
Van Slyke then hit his second double of the game to score Gonzalez, and to everyone’s disbelief, the Dodgers tied the ball game at 6-6.
The Dodgers took their first lead of the game 7-6 in the sixth when A.J. Ellis sacrificed to deep right, well deep enough to score Luis Cruz from third, who had walked.
Josh Hamilton picked the right time of the game to get his first hit of the game — a double to left field off Javy Guerra — and he was brought in to score the tying run by Howie Kendrick, who was tagged out at second base.
Kemp led off the seventh inning with a strikeout, this time looking. It was his third strikeout of the day.
Gonzalez, however, singled to left for his fourth hit of the game. Andre Ethier came in the game to pinch hit, and got to first on a walk.
The Dodger retook the lead with two outs when Jerry Hairston Jr., who had been reinstated from the 15-day DL earlier in the day, connected off Robert Coello to right-center field to score Gonzalez from second. There was a sigh of relief when third-base coach Tim Wallach sent Gonzalez home, due to the lack of his speed. But the Angels didn’t make a play to throw home and the Dodgers took an 8-7 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, Mike Trout flew to right after an 8-pitch at-bat. Eric Aybar had a massive lead and retreated back to first as Andre Ethier fired a shot to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez got vertical to go after Aybar, and first base umpire Paul Emmel called him out for the double play.
Replays showed that it was an incredibly close call, but it didn’t appear that Gonzalez made actual contact with Aybar. The play stood, and the Angels were retired.
Matt Kemp struck out for the fourth time to end the bottom of the inning and strand a runner on third.
Brandon League came in to close the game in the ninth, and immediately gave up a single to Pujols, putting the tying run on board with no outs.
Mark Trumbo, however, grounded into a double play, and Josh Hamilton grounded out to second to end the game.
The Dodger win snaps an eight-game winning streak by the Angels.
The clubs combined for 11 doubles altogether, which is a Dodger Stadium record.
Gonzalez is now 9-for-11 in his last 11 at-bats.
Mattingly seems to have found something in the plate chemistry between Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke, who combined to put up six hits, including four doubles, and three RBI. He also tied his career high with four runs scored.
“It can definitely be a momentum builder,” Gonzalez said after the game. “But you can’t have momentum unless you come out tomorrow and play hard.”
As for Matt Kemp, Don Mattingly’s faith is solid through what seems like a low-point in the star centerfielder’s career, even when it seems to waiver in the stands.
“We’re going to need Matt,” Mattingly said after the game. “We’re not going to give up on Matt.”
The Dodgers, who are now 5-6 in one-run games this season, again host the Angels on Tuesday, before the Freeway Series moves down to Anaheim on Wednesday.