LOS ANGELES -- Kenta Maeda fired seven scoreless innings and Joc Pederson slugged a three-run homer in a four-run sixth inning as the Dodgers beat the Angels Tuesday night, 4-0, for a split of the Dodger Stadium portion of the Freeway Series, which continues Wednesday night in Anaheim.
Maeda, making a spot start after being sent to the bullpen, allowed four hits, struck out six without a walk and improved his record to 6-3. This was Maeda's best start since taking a shutout into in the ninth inning against Pittsburgh on May 10. He's 5-1 in his last eight starts.
"The last few outings, he's been aggressive and filling the strike zone," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Maeda. "With his mix, putting hitters on the defensive, there just weren't many good swings they got off him."
With Brandon McCarthy on the disabled list and encountering control issues again, Maeda will probably make a few more starts after outdueling former teammate Jesse Chavez (5-8).
"He was getting to the corners pretty good, he changed speeds well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Maeda. "I think he used all of his pitches and kept us off-balance. We didn't have too many good looks at him, and he pitched a good seven innings for them."
The Dodgers broke a scoreless tie in the sixth. Chase Utley legged out a double to left-center, John Forsythe walked and Chris Taylor flied to center with Utley tagging to third. Left-hander Jose Alvarez was brought in to face Cody Bellinger, who defeated the shift by punching an RBI single to left.
"Left on left and we needed a base hit there to keep the line moving," Roberts said of Bellinger's 56th RBI in his 59th game. "Cody is not just the guy that can slug. He can barrel hit, hit it flat for a base hit when he needs to, take a walk when he needs to. There's a lot of things he can do to help us win and tonight it wasn't the homer, it was the base hit to left."
After Austin Barnes bounced out, Pederson homered to dead center, his seventh of the season, fifth since returning June 13 from a concussion caused by a collision with Yasiel Puig and first off a lefty.
"Maybe it knocked some sense into me, I don't know," Pederson joked of the collision. But he also noted that while on a brief rehab assignment, hitting instructor Shawn Wooten spotted a flaw and the result is a better swing.
"He definitely found something in my swing that I was doing last year and wasn't doing this year, and it's definitely paying off," said Pederson. "It sort of clicked right away and things have been going well with it. Just getting back to something I wasn't doing before, I was hitting a lot of balls really hard on the ground and he showed me something I wasn't doing that was causing it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Picking up a teammate I: With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Angels outfielder Eric Young lost sight of Taylor's apparent routine fly ball to center field and it dropped 30 feet in front of Young for a gift double. Chavez pitched around and walked Bellinger to bring up Barnes, who struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. Taylor's double was the only Dodgers hit in the first five innings.
"Tough sky at center field," Scioscia said of the play. "We couldn't even see the ball [from the dugout]. Sometimes the ball blends right in with the background."
Picking up a teammate, Part II: With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Cliff Pennington hit a rocket one-hopper that caromed off second baseman Utley for a double. That came after a spectacular diving stop and throw from his knees by shortstop Enrique Hernandez to rob Martin Maldonado of a hit. But Maeda struck out Chavez for the third out to keep the game scoreless.
"That was as good a play as you're going to see this year. Difficulty, athleticism, arm strength to make it over there. A lot of players on our club get a lot of praise. But to have him fill in for an MVP candidate and play that type of defense … it doesn't go undervalued for us." -- Roberts on Corey Seager's fill-in at shortstop, Hernandez, diving to stop Martin Maldonado's bid for a hit and throwing him out from his knees on the outfield grass
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
At 19-6 in June, the Dodgers have the best record in MLB this month.
Angels: The Halos will start Alex Meyer (3-4, 4.20 ERA) on Wednesday night as the Freeway Series turns to Angel Stadium. In five starts at home, Meyer is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.
Dodgers: The Freeway Series shifts to Anaheim on Wednesday and Hyun-Jin Ryu gets the 7:10 p.m. PT start for the Dodgers. Ryu has won only three of 12 starts in his comeback season with 14 homers allowed in 67 innings.
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