ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jason Vargas completed an undefeated May with seven sharp innings, Howie Kendrick doubled twice and scored three runs, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Dodgers 3-2 Thursday night on Chris Nelson’s tiebreaking RBI single to salvage a split of the four-game Freeway Series.
The Angels have won 10 of 12 but have gained only 3 1/2 games in the AL West standings during that stretch and still trail division-leading Texas by 8 1/2.
Vargas (5-3) allowed two runs and five hits, struck out six and walked two. The left-hander was 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six starts this month, after going 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in five starts during April.
Ernesto Frieri pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save in 13 attempts, one night after giving up home runs to Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke in a save.
Ted Lilly (0-2) was charged with three runs, five hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings and struck out three.
Lilly was a strike away from getting out of the sixth but walked Chris Iannetta, putting runners at the corners. Manager Don Mattingly then replaced Lilly with Ronald Belisario.
Nelson, making his first appearance in the Angels’ starting lineup as the designated hitter after getting claimed off waivers from the Yankees on May 17, drove in Kendrick with a bouncing single off Belisario’s glove to snap a 2-all tie. Another infield hit by J.B. Shuck loaded the bases, but Belisario retired Erick Aybar on a groundout after getting a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
The Dodgers played without slumping center fielder Matt Kemp, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list one day after straining his right hamstring chasing down a double to right-center by Mike Trout. The Angels scratched right fielder Josh Hamilton was not in the starting lineup for the second time in three games because of back spasms. But he entered to play right field in the eighth with the Angels trying to protect their one-run lead.
Alberto Callaspo put the Angels ahead 2-1 in the fourth with an RBI single, following a one-out triple to right-center by Howie Kendrick. But the Dodgers tied it when Ramon Hernandez drove Vargas’ first pitch of the fifth inning into the left field bullpen for his second home run with the club.
Crawford, who came in 0 for 9 against Vargas, drove his second pitch of the game over the head of right fielder Mark Trumbo for a triple and scored on Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly.
Crawford turned in the Dodgers’ best defensive play of the season in the bottom half, racing full speed on a flyball down the left field line by the switch-hitting Callaspo and making a diving catch across the chalk before slamming into the short wall in front of the box seats.
Kendrick had to stay put at first base, but he eventually scored the tying run when Iannetta followed with a two-out RBI double over the head of Andre Ethier — who started in center field while Van Slyke played right.
Kemp, a two-time Gold Glove winner, is on the DL for the fourth time in his career — including two stints last season because of a left hamstring strain that ended his consecutive game playing streak at 399 and cost him a combined 51 games. The Dodgers were 24-27 in his absence.
The MVP runner-up two seasons ago, was hitting .251 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 51 games following offseason shoulder surgery, and has struck out 60 times in 191 at-bats.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used his 49th different starting lineup in 52 games. It was only the second time in his eight-year career that Ethier started in center.
NOTES: First base ump Gary Darling blew a call in the Angels’ eighth, ruling Shuck safe on a slow bouncer to a charging Mark Ellis. TV replays clearly showed Shuck was out by a step, and Mattingly came out to argue. … Crawford leads all active players with 116 triples. … Hernandez’s 168th career home run came as a designated hitter. He has hit 161 homers as a catcher, the most among active players at that position. … The Angels are 51-31 against the Dodgers in the regular season since hiring manager Mike Scioscia, who has caught more games than anyone in Dodgers history. The Dodgers haven’t won a season series from the Halos since taking four of six in 2006. … Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis sat out because of an oblique strain on his left side. … Iannetta came in 2 for 16 lifetime against Lilly.