ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani may be limited to hitting right now, but he's still finding ways to be a difference-maker for the Angels.The Angels were down to their final strike on Friday night before Ohtani battled back from an 0-2 count to work a two-out walk against Dodgers closer Kenley
ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani may be limited to hitting right now, but he's still finding ways to be a difference-maker for the Angels.
The Angels were down to their final strike on Friday night before Ohtani battled back from an 0-2 count to work a two-out walk against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, setting into motion an improbable ninth-inning rally that lifted the Halos to a 3-2 walk-off win in the Freeway Series opener at Angel Stadium.
"My previous at-bats, I wasn't able to do my job really well, but I still wanted to get on base and help the team come back and win," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I think we just showed them that we're never going to give up until the last out."
Trailing, 2-1, in the ninth, the Angels tied the game after Ohtani stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error by Yasmani Grandal and scored on David Fletcher's RBI single to left field, saddling Jansen with his first blown save since April 17.
Ian Kinsler then blooped a single to right field, prompting Fletcher to advance from first to third. Fletcher held up as he rounded third, but Yasiel Puig uncorked an errant throw to the plate that skipped past Grandal, allowing Fletcher to score the winning run.
"It was a great at-bat [by Ohtani]," Kinsler said. "He did what he needed to do. The report on Kenley is that he loses track of runners and concentrates a lot on the hitter, and you have an opportunity to steal against him. Shohei took second. It was huge. He got himself in scoring position, and that's what you're supposed to do."
Ohtani's ninth-inning contributions helped make up for his hitless night against Dodgers right-hander and countryman Kenta Maeda, who held the Angels to one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings. Ohtani struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat in the second inning and then popped out in the fifth, making him 2-for-9 against Maeda in his career.
"He was on top of his game," Ohtani said. "He kept our lineup pretty quiet. When the starting pitcher was pitching that well, and we were able to come back and win like that, it was really huge."
With a record 108-degree temperature at first pitch, converted reliever Felix Pena delivered another strong performance, yielding two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings in his fourth start for the Angels. He struck out a career-high eight batters, walked one and threw 76 pitches. The 28-year-old right-hander now has a 2.75 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings since moving into the Angels' rotation.
"Today he was just in the zone with everything," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he had both sides of the plate with command and good movement, spun the ball well. I think the heat got to him in the sixth, but that's a great game from Felix."
Pena opened the game with three scoreless innings, but the Dodgers got on the board in the fourth. After Player Page for Max Muncy and Justin Turner struck out, Cody Bellinger reached on a double off the left-field wall that Justin Upton did not track well. Matt Kemp followed with an RBI single to center field, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Maeda retired the first 10 batters he faced before Andrelton Simmons doubled to left field with one out in the fourth. Simmons shot a slider just inside the third-base line and then slid head-first into second base, just ahead of Chase Utley's tag. The Dodgers challenged the call, but the ruling was confirmed following a replay review.
But the Angels couldn't capitalize, as Maeda subsequently struck out Michael Trout and Upton to strand Simmons at second.
Pena struck out Muncy to start the sixth, but he was removed from the game after walking Turner. Noe Ramirez was summoned to pitch in relief, but he walked Bellinger and then surrendered an RBI single to left field from Kemp that extended the Dodgers' lead to 2-0.
The play also yielded a wild baserunning sequence for the Dodgers, as Bellinger was caught in a rundown between second and third and was subsequently called out for running out of the baseline. Kemp had advanced to second on the play, but he needlessly retreated to first after Bellinger tried to return to second.
The Dodgers continued to threaten after Ramirez issued a two-out walk to Yasmani Grandal, but the Angels escaped further damage after Hansel Robles struck out Chris Taylor looking to end the inning.
After being one-hit by Maeda through five innings, the Angels' offense finally began to stir in the sixth. Kinsler and Jose Briceno strung together back-to-back singles, and the Dodgers intentionally walked Trout to load the bases with two outs. The Angels then scored their first run of the evening with savvy baserunning from Kinsler. With Upton at the plate, Kinsler broke for home, drawing a balk from Maeda that cut the Dodgers' lead to 2-1.
Kinsler said he was planning on attempting to steal home on the play but held off after he saw Maeda speed up his delivery. He said he's deployed the tactic previously, though he acknowledged that it's not often successful.
"Not very often, but you try it and try to keep them guessing," Kinsler said. "Maybe distract them a little bit to make a mistake to the hitter. Whatever it is. But I was going. I was going to try to steal home there."
After Maeda walked Upton to load the bases again for the Angels, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to bring in left-hander Scott Alexander to face Jose Pujols, who struck out swinging to end the rally.
The first-pitch temperature in Anaheim was 108 degrees, the highest in franchise history. The previous record was 106 degrees, done twice on Sept. 4, 1988, and Sept. 3, 2007.
HE SAID IT
"He's a ballplayer. He's always in the right spot. You put him anywhere in the field, he's making plays. He's not intimidated by the big leagues. He's having quality at-bats, playing good defense, running the bases well. He's definitely a great addition." -- Kinsler, on Fletcher's impact
Right-hander William McGuire (0-1, 8.64 ERA) will oppose righty Thomas Stripling (6-2, 2.27 ERA) as the Angels and Dodgers continue their Freeway Series on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. McGuire was charged with the loss in his first start of the season on Sunday in Baltimore after yielding five runs over 3 1/3 innings. He is set to make his first career appearance against the Dodgers and his first start at Angel Stadium.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.