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Angels close first half with familiar near-miss

Marte hits game-tying homer off Kershaw, but 'pen stumbles
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Many of the shortcomings that hindered the Angels over their disappointing first half cropped up again in Sunday afternoon's 5-3 loss to the Dodgers in their Freeway Series finale at Dodger Stadium.

They tied the game in the fourth inning when Jefry Marte belted a three-run home run off ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw, but the Angels squandered two bases-loaded opportunities and finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Left with little margin for error, the bullpen subsequently stumbled, as Taylor Cole yielded a go-ahead home run to Kiké Hernandez in the seventh that propelled the Dodgers in the first-half finale.

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LOS ANGELES -- Many of the shortcomings that hindered the Angels over their disappointing first half cropped up again in Sunday afternoon's 5-3 loss to the Dodgers in their Freeway Series finale at Dodger Stadium.

They tied the game in the fourth inning when Jefry Marte belted a three-run home run off ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw, but the Angels squandered two bases-loaded opportunities and finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Left with little margin for error, the bullpen subsequently stumbled, as Taylor Cole yielded a go-ahead home run to Kiké Hernandez in the seventh that propelled the Dodgers in the first-half finale.

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"Obviously, he is one of the best pitchers in the game," right fielder Kole Calhoun said of Kershaw. "I know he's four or five starts off the DL, but he's still the same guy. To battle back down three against him, it's definitely pretty nice. We gave ourselves a shot, we just couldn't get that big hit after Marte tied it up."

By dropping two of three to their crosstown rivals, the Angels will now head into the All-Star break at 49-48, nine games behind the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. They also trail the surging A's by six games, making the deficit all the more daunting.

It's a precarious position for the Angels, who have gone 36-45 following their franchise-best 13-3 start to the season. A little bit of everything has gone wrong over that stretch. Their offense has been inconsistent, their bullpen has been susceptible to lapses after shouldering a heavy early season workload and their rotation has been ravaged by injuries.

"There are definitely some things that we've been talking about for the last six weeks or so that we need to do better that we're working very hard at," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully we'll get more continuity as we get some guys back in our rotation. Some guys can swing the bats a little bit better. We feel we have the same optimism about reaching our goal, but we know that there are some things we need to do better. That's what we're going to focus on."

The Angels forced Kershaw to throw 29 pitches in the first inning, but they couldn't capitalize on a bases-loaded scoring opportunity. Rookie David Fletcher opened the game by lining a 2-0 fastball from Kershaw to left field for a leadoff double. Andrelton Simmons then attempted to lay down a bunt, but he popped it up to catcher Yasmani Grandal for the first out.

Kershaw then issued walks to Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler to load the bases with two outs. That brought up Marte, who worked a nine-pitch at-bat before striking out swinging on a slider to end the inning. In a show of frustration, Marte emphatically broke his bat over his knee, reducing it to splintered wood.

Marte breaks bat over knee, then homers

Video: LAA@LAD: Marte snaps bat after being K'd by Kershaw

"Clayton's one of the best," Scioscia said. "Even when, sometimes, he looks like he's a little bit on the edge, he finds a way to come back and get outs, and he did it this afternoon."

The Dodgers got on the board in the second after Grandal launched a solo home run off Deck McGuire, who started Sunday in place of the injured Garrett Richards. Andrew Toles then beat out a softly hit ground ball for an infield single, advanced to third on Chris Taylor's single and scored on Hernandez's sacrifice fly. Kershaw followed by punching a two-out single to right field to plate Taylor and extend the Dodgers' lead to 3-0.

The Angels equalized in the fourth after Justin Upton and Kinsler led off the inning with back-to-back singles, setting up Marte's three-run shot to center field. It was the first homer Kershaw had allowed in 28 innings since returning from the disabled list.

"Jefry's last 50 at-bats have been a little bit soft as far as production, but he got a big hit for us this afternoon and tied the ballgame up," Scioscia said. "It's good to see him swing the bat."

The Angels came back to test Kershaw in the seventh, as Luis Valbuena drew a leadoff walk before advancing to second on Fletcher's sacrifice bunt. Kershaw struck out Simmons for the second out, but he then walked Trout on his 108th and final pitch of the afternoon. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda, who hit Upton to load the bases before striking out Kinsler swinging to end the inning.

After Hernandez homered to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead, Toles added an insurance run with an RBI single off Oliver Drake in the eighth.

Pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani led off the ninth against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and struck out swinging on three consecutive cutters. Jansen subsequently coaxed a lineout from Fletcher and a groundout from Simmons to end the game.

Video: LAA@LAD: Jansen strikes out Ohtani to begin the 9th

SOUND SMART
Perhaps it felt like every game of the Freeway Series this season was close. That's because it was, with the Dodgers and Angels each winning two of three at home to split the season series. The average margin of victory across the six contests was 1.3 runs, with the Dodgers outscoring the Angels, 20-18.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Toles scored in L.A.'s three-run second, but it took a pair of reviews going the Dodgers' way to keep him on base. The speedy outfielder hit a high-chopper to first baseman Marte and dove headfirst into first, arriving just as McGuire arrived at the bag to receive the toss. Tole was ruled out, but a challenge led to the call being overturned, as replays showed Toles' hand arrived just in time to get stepped on by McGuire's right foot.

Video: LAA@LAD: Dodgers challenge out at first in the 2nd

Moments later, McGuire tried to pick off Toles at first. Toles was ruled safe on a close play. The Angels challenged the call, believing replay showed that Marte tagged Toles before he got back

The call was allowed to stand, but Scioscia strongly felt that Toles should have been called out.

Video: LAA@LAD: Toles safe at first base, call stands in 2nd

UP NEXT
The Angels open the second half with a matchup against the Astros on Friday at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Houston will call on Dallas Keuchel. The Halos have not announced a starting pitcher.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Jefry Marte

USA outslugs World in 8-homer Futures Game

Diaz only 2nd player in game's history to go deep twice
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nobody told the players in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game that the T-Mobile Home Run Derby wasn't taking place until Monday night.

Box score

WASHINGTON -- Nobody told the players in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game that the T-Mobile Home Run Derby wasn't taking place until Monday night.

Box score

The two sides combined for eight home runs -- doubling the previous Futures Game record -- as the Team USA outslugged the World, 10-6, on All-Star Sunday at Nationals Park.

Yusniel Diaz, the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect, became only the second player in the 20-year history of the Futures Game to go deep twice, but it wasn't enough as the U.S. bashed its way to its second straight win and eighth in the past nine years. 

Video: WLD@USA: Diaz clobbers 2-run jack, game-tying HR

Seven players homered overall in the game, and the eight long balls were more than had been hit in the previous five Futures Games comined, but the decisive run came on a Brendan Rodgers strikeout as Jo Adell (No. 36 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 and the Angels' No. 1 prospect) scored on a wild pitch.

Taylor Trammell (No. 34 overall, Reds' No. 3) earned MVP honors, going 2-for-2 with a home run and a triple.

Video: WLD@USA: Trammell launches a 438-foot homer

"You look at the game, the way it went down, there wasn't much of a difference," World manager David Ortiz said. "It was back-and forth-type of game. To me, that's a good sign to know, as a baseball fan like I am right now, that the future of the game is in great hands."

U.S. Team starter Mitch Keller (No. 12 overall, Pirates' No. 1) showed his stuff in a perfect opening frame.

Video: WLD@USA: Keller K's Basabe, retires the side in order

His offense rewarded him with a two-out rally against World Team starter Jesus Luzardo (No. 20 overall, Athletics' No. 1) in the bottom of the inning as Rodgers (No. 6 overall, Rockies' No. 1) doubled to left field, scoring the game's first run on a single by Rays prospect Nate Lowe.

Justus Sheffield (No. 39 overall, Yankees' No. 2) took the mound for the second inning for the USA, promptly giving up the lead as Seuly Matias (Royals' No. 3) launched a 93.8 mph fastball over the right-field wall, his leadoff homer tying the game.

Video: WLD@USA: Matias puts the World on the board with a HR

Hunter Greene (No. 18 overall, Reds' No. 2) came out firing after relieving Sheffield with one out and a man on base in the third. The right-hander's first pitch clocked in at 100.9 mph, which he followed up with pitches of 102.4, 101.9 and 102.3 mph; unfortunately, the last one was sent soaring over the fence in right-center by Luis Alexander Basabe, the White Sox's No. 13 prospect.

"He's not trying to homer, he's trying to put the ball in play," Ortiz said. "This guy's mindset, at this early stage in his career, he's in the game. It's something that impressed me a lot."

The two-run home run gave the World Team a 3-1 lead, which Luzardo and Bryan Mata (Red Sox's No. 4) held through the third.

Greene threw 19 fastballs during his 27-pitch outing; every one of them registered between 100.0 and 103.1 mph.

Video: WLD@USA: Greene K's Matias swinging in the 3rd inning

"I want someone to look at that and tell me if you see that in the Major League All-Star Game," U.S. manager Torii Hunter said. "You won't see it, I promise."

Team USA battled back in the fourth against Lewis Thorpe (Twins' No. 11), getting a pair of two-run blasts from Danny Jansen (Blue Jays' No. 6) and Ke'Bryan Hayes (No. 92 overall, Pirates' No. 3). Hayes -- the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes -- snapped the tie game with his shot, vaulting the U.S. Team back on top by two runs.

Then again, on this day, a two-run lead didn't feel like much of a lead at all.

Matt Manning (No. 47 overall, Tigers' No. 2) recorded two quick outs in the fifth, but like so many other pitchers Sunday, that third out proved to be more difficult.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

Fernando Tatis Jr. (No. 3 overall, Padres' No. 1) reached on a two-out single, setting up Diaz's two-run blast to right-center. The No. 85 overall prospect pulled the World Team even again with his blast, the third for his squad and fifth overall between the two teams in the first five frames.

"I gave up one and I was pretty mad, but after watching the rest of the game, that's just the kind of game it was," Manning said. "That's an All-Star lineup. In the Minors, I may get one of those guys a day. To get nine of them at one time is tough, but that's how it's going to be in the big leagues."

Trammell broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth with -- what else -- a solo home run. The 20-year-old, who plays in the Class A Florida State League, launched a 2-2 fastball from Kieran Lovegrove (Indians) to right-center, giving Team USA a 6-5 lead.

This lead vanished quickly, too.

Diaz belted a two-out solo shot off Shaun Anderson (Giants' No. 7) to tie the game at 6 in the seventh inning. It was the second homer of the game for Diaz, who joined Alfonso Soriano as the only players in the game's 20-year history to go deep twice. Soriano hit two homers in the inaugural game back in 1999.

"Those are Minor Leaguers hitting balls like big leaguers," Ortiz said. "That is impressive. I saw balls hit today that I swear, I was watching a Major League Baseball player."

Video: WLD@USA: Ortiz on his lineup, talent on World team

Adell opened the bottom of the seventh with a double, moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Rodgers' third strike went to the backstop, giving USA a one-run advantage. That lead swelled to three nine pitches later as Peter Alonso (Mets' No. 2) won a battle with Adonis Medina (No. 74 overall, Phillies' No. 2), crushing a 3-2 fastball down the left-field line. The two-run homer gave Team USA a 9-6 lead.

To nobody's surprise, the World Team threatened to tie the game in the following inning, using a walk and an Alonso error to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. But Kyle Wright (No. 25 overall, Braves' No. 2) entered the game and restored order, getting a fly ball and a double play to preserve the three-run cushion.

"That was clutch, man," USA pitching coach LaTroy Hawkins said. "We needed him to go in there and throw strikes and he did that."

Dylan Cease (No. 40 overall, White Sox's No. 4) and Luis Ortiz (Brewers' No. 4) finished off the World Team with a scoreless ninth.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.

After K'ing against Kershaw and snapping his bat, Jefry Marte came up again and hit a three-run homer

Facing Clayton Kershaw in Sunday's series finale between the Angels and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Jefry Marte had his hands full in the first inning. With the bases loaded and a full count, he struck out  to end the inning and, thus, the Angels' threat.

This frustrated him, as it would you had you been in his shoes. But would you have snapped the bat over your knee as impressively as he did? 

Ohtani discusses first half of rookie season

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Shohei Ohtani began his first MLB season as a two-way player for the Angels, but he'll head into his first All-Star break exclusively as a hitter due to a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

The Angels are hoping Ohtani will be able to recover his two-way identity in the second half, as the 24-year-old Japanese phenom is scheduled to be evaluated on Thursday to see whether the platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections he received on June 7 have continued to help heal his damaged elbow ligament.

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LOS ANGELES -- Shohei Ohtani began his first MLB season as a two-way player for the Angels, but he'll head into his first All-Star break exclusively as a hitter due to a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

The Angels are hoping Ohtani will be able to recover his two-way identity in the second half, as the 24-year-old Japanese phenom is scheduled to be evaluated on Thursday to see whether the platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections he received on June 7 have continued to help heal his damaged elbow ligament.

View Full Game Coverage

While the Angels have missed Ohtani's contributions on the mound, the left-handed slugger remains a key piece of the lineup. He entered Sunday batting .285 with an .893 OPS, seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 156 plate appearances. Before the elbow injury, Ohtani also logged a 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings.

"I didn't set any expectations for myself before the season," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I just wanted to see how things panned out. I had to get through some ups and downs, but overall it went pretty well."

Manager Mike Scioscia praised Ohtani for his success and his ability to quickly adjust to a new country and new league after spending the first five seasons of his career in Japan.

"Shohei has shown that his talent is real, and he can play at a very high level in the Major Leagues," Scioscia said. "We're excited about that. I think he's done remarkably well for a young player coming over with so much on his plate."

Though Ohtani is now a full-time designated hitter, the Angels have tended to sit him against tough left-handed pitchers so far this season. While Ohtani had even splits in Japan, he has posted a .508 OPS against lefties in the Majors, compared to a 1.032 OPS against righties.

Still, Scioscia said the Angels were encouraged by Ohtani's double off Dodgers lefty Scott Alexander in Friday's 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium. Ohtani said he hopes to earn more playing time against lefties moving forward.

"I've been saying this the whole time, I don't really feel uncomfortable hitting lefties," Ohtani said. "I hit them pretty well in Japan, so I just prepare myself for every at-bat. Of course, if I have better results, there are better chances I'll be starting against lefties. But ultimately that's up to Mike Scioscia, so I don't have much say in it."

Worth noting
• The Angels optioned infielder Jose Fernandez and recalled right-hander Eduardo Paredes from Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday. It marked Paredes' ninth stint with the Angels this year.

Jim Johnson (lumbar strain) threw a bullpen at Dodger Stadium on Sunday and is expected to log at least one more rehab outing before he's activated from the disabled list.

"We feel he's getting close," Scioscia said. "We'll see how it goes."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Calhoun's 10th-inning blast saves day for Halos

Right fielder has hit 3 home runs in first 2 games of series vs. Dodgers
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Earlier this week, manager Mike Scioscia noted that Kole Calhoun's confidence appeared to be mounting after finally turning the corner on his early-season slump.

"He's got that little swagger back," Scioscia said.

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LOS ANGELES -- Earlier this week, manager Mike Scioscia noted that Kole Calhoun's confidence appeared to be mounting after finally turning the corner on his early-season slump.

"He's got that little swagger back," Scioscia said.

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The latest sign of Calhoun's burgeoning comfort at the plate came on Saturday, when he hammered a go-ahead home run off Kenley Jansen in the 10th inning to lift the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers and even the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium.

Jansen retired the first two batters he faced before Calhoun belted a first-pitch cutter to right-center field to snap a 4-4 tie. It was Calhoun's third home run in his last two games, as he also homered twice off Walker Buehler in Friday's 3-2 series-opening loss.

"Since he's come back from his oblique [strain], he's been banging balls," left-hander Andrew Heaney said. "There's no denying that he's seeing the ball well. He's squaring it up when he gets one over the plate. It's fun to watch. It's the Kole we all know. That's what you expect from him."

Calhoun batted just .145 with a .374 OPS and one home run over 50 games before landing on the disabled list on June 2. He missed three weeks while on the DL and used the time to tweak his batting stance, adopting a more pronounced crouch at the plate.

"They've been good," Calhoun said of the adjustments. "Every day is kind of a work in progress. I'm just trying to go out and compete and help the team win. It's definitely nice to contribute."

Jose Alvarez took the mound in the bottom of the 10th and retired Cody Bellinger on a flyout before Andrew Toles sent a drive to the warning track in left field. Justin Upton slipped while trying to track the ball and then collided with the wall, allowing it to fall for a double. Team trainer Adam Nevala and Scioscia then came out to check on Upton, who stayed in the game.

Video: LAA@LAD: Toles doubles, Upton shaken up

"I kind of jammed my whole right side and it kind of stunned me a little bit, but I'm fine," Upton said. "Probably a little sore tomorrow. It was a high sky, and I had to turn my back on the ball. When I went to find the ball again, I couldn't quite find it. At that point, when I found it at the last second, I tried to turn and catch it at the wall. I just didn't know where I was."

Toles advanced to third on a passed ball, but Alvarez escaped the jam by coaxing a flyout from Chase Utley and striking out Yasmani Grandal to end the game.

Video: LAA@LAD: Alvarez fans Grandal to earn the win in 10th

"Both teams battled," Scioscia said. "Both teams had big hits, and fortunately, Kole at the end made it stand up. But we had to battle the whole way."

Upton crushed a solo home run off Dylan Floro to give the Angels a 4-3 lead in the seventh, but the Dodgers scored the tying run in the ninth off Blake Parker. After Utley led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, Grandal lined a double over the head of Upton in left field to plate Utley from first.

The Dodgers later loaded the bases after Scioscia decided to intentionally walk Max Muncy with two outs, but Alvarez induced a flyout from Joc Pederson to force extra innings.

Video: LAA@LAD: Alvarez retires Pederson to preserve tie

Heaney gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits over 6 1/3 innings in his final start before the All-Star break. He walked one, struck out six and threw 101 pitches, lowering his ERA to 3.78 on the season.

"Definitely a little bit of a grinder today," Heaney said. "I hit a wall earlier than I would like to and just kind of had to push through it, settle in, and be able to use what I had."

Video: LAA@LAD: Heaney tosses 6 1/3 solid innings, fans 6

The Angels opened the scoring in the first inning with the help of a defensive misplay by Toles in center field. Toles attempted to make a diving catch on a line drive off the bat of Andrelton Simmons, but he couldn't come up with it, allowing Simmons to reach on a double. Mike Trout followed by beating out a grounder to second base for an infield single, and the Angels got on the board on Upton's subsequent RBI single to left field.

The Angels struck for two more runs in the second to extend their lead to 3-0. Calhoun led off the inning with a double to center field and advanced to third after Heaney hit a comebacker that deflected off left-hander Alex Wood's glove for an infield single. It was Heaney's first hit since 2014. Calhoun later scored on David Fletcher's sacrifice fly to left field.

Wood fell into more trouble after yielding another double to Simmons and walking Trout to load the bases with two outs. That brought up Upton, who forced in another run with a bases-loaded walk.

Video: LAA@LAD: Upton extends lead with an RBI walk

The Dodgers countered with two runs in the bottom of the second to cut the Angels' lead to 3-2. Heaney yielded three consecutive hits to start the inning -- a double to Muncy and singles to Logan Forsythe and Bellinger -- permitting the Dodgers to score their first run of the evening. After striking out Toles and inducing a flyout from Austin Barnes, Heaney attempted to field a bunt by Wood, but his wide throw pulled first baseman Jefry Marte off the bag, allowing Wood to reach on an error to load the bases for the Dodgers with two outs.

Heaney then hit Chris Taylor on the right foot to knock in another run, bringing the Dodgers within one, but he prevented the inning from unraveling further by striking out Enrique Hernandez looking.

Heaney settled in after the strenuous inning and worked a spotless third and fourth, but he surrendered a leadoff home run to Taylor in the fifth that tied the game at three.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Upton's go-ahead shot: The Angels went ahead, 4-3, in the seventh after Upton crushed a solo shot off Floro. Floro had retired the first 12 batters he faced since joining the Dodgers on July 4, but he misplaced a sinker to Upton, who belted it into the left-field bleachers for his 19th home run of the season.

Video: LAA@LAD: Upton crushes a go-ahead homer in the 7th

"He's got pretty good movement on his fastball," Upton said. "That one caught a little bit more plate than I think he wanted to in an 0-1 count, and I was able to get the bat on it."

SOUND SMART
Calhoun is now batting .288 with eight home runs, four doubles and 15 RBIs in 24 games since returning from the disabled list on June 18.

UP NEXT
The Angels will close out the first half by taking on the Dodgers in Sunday's Freeway Series finale at 1:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. Right-hander Deck McGuire (0-1, 6.10 ERA) will make his third start of the season and oppose left-hander Clayton Kershaw (3-4, 2.61 ERA). McGuire last started for the Angels on July 7, when he worked three scoreless innings against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Kole Calhoun

Ohtani takes step forward vs. lefty pitching

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Angels have tended to sit Shohei Ohtani against tough left-handed starters this season, but he had an encouraging at-bat against a lefty in the ninth inning of Friday's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.

With the Angels trailing by one, manager Mike Scioscia decided to send up Ohtani to pinch-hit against Dodgers left-hander Scott Alexander, who had struck out the Japanese rookie during an at-bat at Angel Stadium last week. The left-handed-hitting Ohtani prevailed in their second encounter, however, driving a 2-2 sinker into the left-center-field gap for a double.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Angels have tended to sit Shohei Ohtani against tough left-handed starters this season, but he had an encouraging at-bat against a lefty in the ninth inning of Friday's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.

With the Angels trailing by one, manager Mike Scioscia decided to send up Ohtani to pinch-hit against Dodgers left-hander Scott Alexander, who had struck out the Japanese rookie during an at-bat at Angel Stadium last week. The left-handed-hitting Ohtani prevailed in their second encounter, however, driving a 2-2 sinker into the left-center-field gap for a double.

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Ohtani's hit put the tying run in scoring position with one out, but Alexander escaped the jam by inducing a game-ending double play from David Fletcher. Still, Scioscia said he was impressed by Ohtani's at-bat, which yielded only his second extra-base hit against a lefty this season.

"That was a great at-bat last night from a guy that, a week before, had made tough pitches on him and struck him out," Scioscia said Saturday. "He got a pitch to hit, he didn't miss it. At the time it was big, so it's definitely encouraging."

Ohtani, 24, is now batting .167 (6-for-36) with a .491 OPS against lefties this season, compared to .327 (33-for-101) with a 1.032 OPS against righties.

Ohtani isn't expected to start any of the games at Dodger Stadium this weekend since the Angels are without the designated hitter, but he'll be available to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, a role in which he has excelled this season. After doubling off Alexander, Ohtani is 4-for-8 with a home run in eight games as a pinch-hitter.

"He's definitely getting more acclimated to it," Scioscia said. "I think he's feeling more comfortable with it. It's not easy, but he seems like he doesn't come out of his game when he's pinch-hitting. He can definitely help us in that role this weekend, but we look forward to him swinging the bat more as we get into the second half."

Worth noting

Nick Tropeano (right shoulder inflammation) gave up two runs on seven hits over four innings in his second rehab start with Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Saturday, but Scioscia said the Angels have not yet determined what his next step will be. Tropeano has not pitched for the Angels since June 10.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Pujols goes on DL with left knee inflammation

MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- One day after homering twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list with 630, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols landed on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that Pujols had been playing through knee trouble for a while, so the Angels decided to use the All-Star break to give the 38-year-old slugger an extended period of rest while only missing six games. Pujols also wouldn't have had the option to serve as the designated hitter this weekend, as the Angels will close out the first half with three games at Dodger Stadium.

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LOS ANGELES -- One day after homering twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list with 630, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols landed on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Friday that Pujols had been playing through knee trouble for a while, so the Angels decided to use the All-Star break to give the 38-year-old slugger an extended period of rest while only missing six games. Pujols also wouldn't have had the option to serve as the designated hitter this weekend, as the Angels will close out the first half with three games at Dodger Stadium.

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Scioscia said Pujols received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing knee on Friday and is expected to return from the DL after the requisite 10 days.

"This guy is such a gamer," Scioscia said. "He's been playing with it banged up for a while, and he's been very productive. This is really to try to get him to a little higher level, to make him more comfortable, maybe a little bit more durable on the knee, because he goes out there and plays at 50 percent. It's just to give him at a little higher percentage to where it's not at taxing. But he's going to play. There's no doubt about it. The way it's been for a while, he's played on it, he's played very well. We're very confident that this will help him."

Pujols is batting .251 with a .723 OPS, 16 home runs and a team-high 52 RBIs this season. In an effort to free up at-bats for Shohei Ohtani at the DH spot, Pujols has shouldered a heavier workload at first base. He already has 48 starts at first this year, more than his previous two years combined (34).

Video: LAD@LAA: Pujols robs Bellinger with a sliding play

Pujols has dealt with several lower-body injuries since joining the Angels, though this marks his first DL stint since 2013.

"Albert at times is superhuman," Scioscia said. "He's been dealing with a lot of things, and he's played and he's played well with it. This has been bothering him for a while, but he's managed to stay in the lineup, play first base a lot, manage to do things that were important for the club. Hopefully this will move him a little bit forward."

The Angels recalled infielder Jose Fernandez from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace Pujols on the roster. Fernandez, a left-handed hitter, started at first base on Friday night against Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler in the Freeway Series opener. The Angels also optioned Michael Hermosillo and recalled outfielder Jabari Blash.

Worth noting
• The Angels have signed Japanese right-handed reliever Junichi Tazawa to a Minor League deal. Tazawa, 32, was released by the Tigers earlier this week after posting a 9.39 ERA over 7 2/3 innings in nine appearances for Triple-A Toledo. He has a 4.16 career ERA in 379 Major League games.

"He's a guy that was really throwing the ball well a couple years ago," Scioscia said. "If he can regain that, there's no doubt that he can be part of a good bullpen."

• Right-hander Nick Tropeano (shoulder inflammation) allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits over four innings in his first rehab start for Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Friday. He walked one, struck out five and threw 71 pitches.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols

Angels lose lead after Calhoun homers twice

Dodgers rally with 2-run 7th to take Freeway Series opener
MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- It had been a month since Cam Bedrosian had yielded an earned run, but the Dodgers brought that streak to an end on Friday, scoring twice in the seventh inning to rally for a 3-2 win over the Angels in the Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium.

The Angels entered the seventh with a 2-1 lead after Kole Calhoun launched a pair of solo home runs off right-hander Walker Buehler, but Bedrosian fell into trouble after surrendering a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe and a double to Joc Pederson, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

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ANAHEIM -- It had been a month since Cam Bedrosian had yielded an earned run, but the Dodgers brought that streak to an end on Friday, scoring twice in the seventh inning to rally for a 3-2 win over the Angels in the Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium.

The Angels entered the seventh with a 2-1 lead after Kole Calhoun launched a pair of solo home runs off right-hander Walker Buehler, but Bedrosian fell into trouble after surrendering a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe and a double to Joc Pederson, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

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Max Muncy then tied it with an RBI single to right field. Calhoun fielded the ball and fired home, but his throw sailed over the head of catcher Jose Briceno, allowing Pederson to score the go-ahead run from third.

"With Joc on second, I felt like I had to hurry a little bit, and it turns out he wasn't even going," Calhoun said. "It's just a throw that's got to be down. Just not executed by me."

Video: LAA@LAD: Error, Muncy's hit gives Dodgers lead in 7th

Bedrosian, who entered Friday with a 0.49 ERA in his previous 18 appearances, was charged with the loss after giving up two runs over one-third of an inning. He hadn't allowed an earned run since June 12, a stretch that spanned 12 2/3 innings.

"It looked like he had a little problem with his breaking ball, getting it where he wanted to," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He wasn't that far off, but obviously, he missed some spots with some pitches."

With closer Kenley Jansen unavailable, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoned left-hander Scott Alexander to protect his club's one-run lead in the ninth. The Angels made it interesting after pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani lined a double into the left-center-field gap to put the tying run on second with one out.

Video: LAA@LAD: Ohtani lines a pinch-hit double in the 9th

Briceno kept the uprising alive by beating out a grounder to shortstop to put runners on the corners, but Alexander worked out of the jam by inducing a game-ending 5-4-3 double play from David Fletcher. First baseman Cody Bellinger was forced to come off the bag to snag an errant throw from Forsythe, but he managed to tag Fletcher for the final out.

"Of the options we had, we were comfortable putting Shohei up in that situation," Scioscia said. "We just scratched together, but they made a nice play to end the game."

Video: LAA@LAD: Muncy starts DP to help Alexander earn save

Calhoun accounted for both of the Angels' runs with the fourth multi-homer game of his career, but rest of the lineup struggled to capitalize on several opportunities and finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Right-hander Felix Pena, a converted reliever, gave up one run on three hits over four innings in his fifth start of the season. He walked three, struck out five and threw 74 pitches. Pena warmed up to start the fifth inning, but Scioscia decided to replace him with left-hander Jose Alvarez after the Dodgers sent up lefty bat Chase Utley to pinch-hit for Buehler.

Muncy, who is set to participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday at Nationals Park, put the Dodgers on the board in the first inning by blasting a 3-2 fastball from Pena to right-center field for his 22nd home run of the season. The Dodgers continued to threaten after Kemp walked, Cody Bellinger doubled and Yasmani Grandal walked to load the bases with one out, but Pena escaped further damage by inducing a 4-6-3 double play from Chris Taylor to end the inning.

The Angels put runners on the corners with one out in the first inning after Andrelton Simmons and Mike Trout strung together back-to-back singles, but Buehler extricated himself from the jam by striking out Justin Upton and Luis Valbuena.

In the third, Buehler misplaced a fastball to Calhoun, who deposited it 433 feet over the center-field fence to tie the game at 1. Two innings later, Calhoun tagged Buehler for another home run, blasting a changeup to left-center field to put the Angels ahead, 2-1. Calhoun is now batting .276 with seven home runs and 14 RBIs since returning from the disabled list on June 18. He had been batting just .145 prior to the injury.

"I got a couple pitches to drive and put some good swings on them," Calhoun said. "Fortunately enough, they left the yard. It's been good since coming off the DL, and hopefully I just continue to go that way. It's nice to get in there and go and compete and help this ballclub."

SOUND SMART
Ohtani is now 6-for-36 (.167) with two doubles against left-handed pitchers this year.

UP NEXT
Left-hander Andrew Heaney (5-6, 3.84 ERA) will make his final start before the All-Star break on Saturday as the Angels play the second of three Freeway Series games against the Dodgers at 4:15 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. He'll be opposed by lefty Alex Wood (5-5, 3.88 ERA). Heaney earned the win in his last start against the Dodgers on Sunday after giving up three runs over seven innings at Angel Stadium. He is seeking his first road win since Sept. 2, 2015 at Oakland.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Kole Calhoun

Some of Mike Trout's teammates were sporting his face T-shirts, and they looked phenomenal

You can never have too much Mike Trout. So, why not make T-shirts with his face on them, right? In a recent promotion the Angels hosted Trout Shirt Night, and it was exactly what it sounded like: shirts with the face of the legendary outfielder's face plastered across the front. And what a sight it was:

Pujols ties Griffey with 630th HR in Halos' rout

MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Machine has matched The Kid.

Albert Pujols homered twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list as the Angels routed the Mariners, 11-2, to secure a series victory on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- The Machine has matched The Kid.

Albert Pujols homered twice to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list as the Angels routed the Mariners, 11-2, to secure a series victory on Thursday night at Angel Stadium.

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Pujols pulled within one of Griffey with a two-run homer off left-hander James Paxton in the first inning and then tied the Mariners great with his 630th career blast, a solo shot off Nick Rumbelow in the sixth. The 38-year-old slugger finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs, tying Rickey Henderson for 25th place on the all-time hits list (3,055).

"Griffey was everybody's hero growing up," Pujols said. "That's how I look at it. Even though I'm right-handed, everybody wanted to have that sweet swing. ... It's just really special to be able to tie a legend, against the team that he came up with in the big leagues."

David Fletcher and Justin Upton also homered for the Angels (48-46), who are 10 games back of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot after taking two of three games during this series. After a 4-2 homestand, the Angels will head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend in their final series before the All-Star break.

Video: SEA@LAA: Angels on Pujols' accomplishments

Left-hander Tyler Skaggs fired six innings of one-run ball in his first start since returning from the disabled list. Skaggs missed his scheduled start in Seattle last week with a right adductor strain, but he picked up right where he left off on Thursday, holding the Mariners to five hits while walking one and striking out five in the 80-pitch effort. He now has a 2.57 ERA in 17 starts this season and has allowed one or fewer earned runs in six consecutive starts, tying the club record for a left-hander.

"This is the best I've ever thrown the ball in my whole career," Skaggs said. "Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. I'm looking forward to my next outing."

Video: SEA@LAA: Skaggs K's 5 over 6 innings of 1-run ball

The Mariners scored their only run against Skaggs in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Dee Gordon reached on an infield single after hitting a soft grounder down the first-base line. Skaggs fielded the ball and attempted to flip it to Jefry Marte at first base, but Marte wasn't there to receive the throw, allowing Gordon to advance to second on the throwing error. Gordon later scored on Kyle Seager's two-out RBI single to right field to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

"I would say the first inning was a little rusty," Skaggs said. "Kind of working back into things, right out of the stretch after the first batter. Kind of exerted a lot of energy in the first. I felt like I kind of cruised after that, but the first inning was tough."

The Angels entered Thursday with a 7-17 record against left-handed starters, but their bats came alive against Paxton in the first inning. Fletcher led off with his first career home run, crushing Paxton's second pitch of the night to left field to tie the game, 1-1.

"Obviously, once I saw it go over the fence, it felt really good," Fletcher said. "I'm not a home run hitter, but every now and then, I'll run into one."

Video: SEA@LAA: Fletcher leads off with his 1st career homer

After a single from Mike Trout, Pujols blasted a first-pitch fastball from Paxton to center field for a two-run homer that put the Angels ahead, 3-1. Mariners athletic trainers then came out to check on Paxton, who was forced to depart with lower back stiffness. Paxton, who threw just 17 pitches and recorded two outs, was replaced on the mound by right-hander Chasen Bradford.

"I think the guys were comfortable in the box against a really tough pitcher in Paxton," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We did a good job early to get the lead."

The Angels added another run in the second after Marte reached on a hit-by-pitch, advanced to third on Martin Maldonado's single and scored on Kole Calhoun's sacrifice fly. They extended their lead to 5-1 in the fifth on Ian Kinsler's RBI single. Kinsler went 3-for-5 with three RBIs to collect his 18th multihit game of the season.

Upton and Pujols then hammered back-to-back home runs off Rumbelow to break the game open with a four-run sixth. After Andrelton Simmons singled and Trout reached on a hit-by-pitch, Upton belted a first-pitch slider to center field for a three-run homer. Pujols followed by depositing another misplaced slider from Rumbelow over the left-field fence to tie Griffey.

Video: SEA@LAA: Upton smashes a 3-run homer in the 6th

"It's fun to watch," Scioscia said. "But the beautiful thing about Albert is he wants to win, and that's what he plays the game for. He's focused and he's prepared, and he's really come alive with the bat."

Having already used five relievers to cover the innings left by Paxton's early exit, Mariners manager Scott Servais decided to send infielder Andrew Romine to the mound in the eighth inning. Romine, who was making his fifth pitching appearance, yielded another pair of runs on Kinsler's two-run single to left field.

Video: SEA@LAA: Kinsler plates a pair with a single to left

SOUND SMART
Trout joined Joe Morgan (1974) as the only players with 100 hits, 80 walks and 15 stolen bases before the All-Star break.

UP NEXT
The Angels will head to Los Angeles on Friday to take on the Dodgers in their final series before the All-Star break. Right-handers Felix Pena (1-0, 3.63 ERA) and Walker Buehler (4-2, 3.44 ERA) will face off in the Freeway Series opener at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. Pena gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings in his last start against the Dodgers on July 6 at Angel Stadium. Since moving into the Angels' rotation, Pena has posted a 2.75 ERA over four starts.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, David Fletcher, Albert Pujols

Richards opts to undergo Tommy John surgery

Righty to be free agent after this season
MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Garrett Richards may have thrown his final pitch for the Angels.

The 30-year-old right-hander said Thursday that he has decided to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. The surgery is expected to be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on July 24. Richards, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, said he hopes to return to pitch in 2020.

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ANAHEIM -- Garrett Richards may have thrown his final pitch for the Angels.

The 30-year-old right-hander said Thursday that he has decided to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. The surgery is expected to be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on July 24. Richards, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, said he hopes to return to pitch in 2020.

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Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses Richards' decision to have surgery

"I'm disappointed, obviously, but this is something that I have to do," Richards said. "It's nothing that I haven't done before. I've obviously had some injuries in my career, and I've always come back just as good, if not better. I'm not discouraged. I'm just kind of getting my mind ready just to get back to rehabbing this thing and coming back strong."

Drafted by the Angels with the 42nd overall pick in 2009, Richards went 45-38 with a 3.54 ERA in parts of eight seasons in Anaheim, though he was limited to 28 starts over the last three years because of various arm injuries. He missed most of the '16 season with a partial UCL tear, though he avoided Tommy John surgery at the time by receiving a stem-cell injection in his elbow.

Richards returned to pitch last season, but he departed his first start with a nerve issue in his right biceps, an injury that sidelined him until September. He logged a 3.66 ERA over 16 starts this year before exiting his outing against the Mariners on Tuesday in the third inning with forearm irritation. An MRI performed Wednesday revealed the recurrence of UCL damage in his elbow. While Richards could have tried conservative treatment again, he decided that surgery was his best option.

"I kind of had made up my mind that if there was something going on related to my UCL, then this time around, I was going to get the surgery," Richards said. "Just move on. Just get the surgery and move forward, get back to the second half of my career, hopefully, and get back to doing what I do best."

Richards had sensed that something was amiss after he felt that his arm wasn't rebounding quite the same way over the last couple of weeks. The situation came to a head on Tuesday, when he was removed from his start during a third-inning at-bat against Nelson Cruz. Richards' final two fastballs were clocked at 92.2 and 92.8 mph, a notable drop from his 96.4 mph average this season.

"The ball was still coming out of my hand fine, and I was still able to pitch, obviously, but it just kind of progressively got worse," Richards said. "Obviously there towards the end, with my velo dropping and everything, you couldn't really hide it anymore. It sucks."

Richards said he doesn't regret opting for stem-cell therapy when he had the option to undergo Tommy John surgery two years ago. The alternative, non-surgical treatment has so far shown mixed results for the Angels, who have had a spate of UCL injuries in recent years.

Andrew Heaney and JC Ramirez also received stem-cell injections after their UCL injuries, but they, too, ultimately underwent surgery. Shohei Ohtani received stem-cell and platelet-rich injections to treat his damaged UCL on June 7 and will be re-evaluated next week to determine if he'll return to pitch this season.

"I had a unique case," Richards said. "Mine wasn't tearing typically like everybody else's usually does. I had kind of a unique case to where we felt comfortable giving it a shot. I think that if somebody out there is going through the same thing, and they're advised from several doctors that they might have a decent chance at getting this thing back to playable shape, then why not?"

Richards would have been the Angels' most valuable trade chip at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but his injury will take a quality arm off the already-thin market for starting pitchers. It will also have obvious ramifications for his impending free agency. A healthy and effective season could have likely secured Richards a sizeable, multiyear contract, but his arm trouble will now complicate his market.

Richards should still draw his share of suitors, but he might have to settle for a two-year deal like the ones signed by Drew Smyly ($10 million), Michael Pineda ($10 million) and Nathan Eovaldi ($4 million), who all spent a season rehabbing before returning to pitch in the final year of their deals.

"I think all that kind of comes into play," Richards said. "Obviously, you think about it. Just going in, getting it done, getting past it, coming back and knowing that this thing is repaired and ready to go. It's not only for peace of mind for me, but peace of mind for whoever wants me to play for [them] as well."

"I'll be back," he added. "I'll be ready. Don't worry. Everything will be fine, and I'll get through this. I'm positive about it. I'm not going to dwell on the negative stuff. That's all you can do. This is what was presented to me, and this is what I have to deal with. Just try and tackle it."

Worth noting
The Angels optioned Jaime Barria to Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Thursday and activated left-hander Tyler Skaggs off the disabled list to start the series finale against Seattle. Barria's next start wouldn't have been until after the All-Star break, and the Angels wanted to keep a full bullpen and bench as they head to Dodger Stadium for the final leg of the Freeway Series this weekend. Barria is expected to return to the Angels' rotation after the All-Star break.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Garrett Richards