Another Ohtani first lifts Angels past Dodgers

July 9th, 2018

ANAHEIM -- continues to find ways to deliver for the Angels, even with only half of his skill set available.

Ohtani crushed a tiebreaking pinch-hit home run off reliever JT Chargois in the seventh inning to lift the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Dodgers in their Freeway Series finale at Angel Stadium on Sunday.

Ohtani didn't start against Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood after fouling a ball off his right knee on Friday, but he received treatment before the game and informed manager Mike Scioscia in the second inning that he'd be ready to go if needed.

With the game tied at 3 in the seventh, Scioscia decided to have Ohtani hit for . Ohtani promptly hammered a 96-mph inside fastball from Chargois over the center-field fence for his seventh home run of the season and his first since May 17. Ohtani's first career pinch-hit home run had an exit velocity of 108.8 mph and traveled an estimated 443 feet, according to Statcast™.

"It was going to be hard for me to run all-out, so I was glad I was able to hit a home run," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

Ohtani, 24, is 3-for-17 since returning from the disabled list on July 3, though he also helped spark the Angels' 3-2 walk-off win over the Dodgers on Friday by manufacturing the tying run in the ninth inning. He has been limited to hitting due to a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

"It's just what he does," left-hander said. "It's really impressive. It's great to have for us. Obviously, you bring in a guy like that to pinch-hit or have him at DH, that's going to definitely help our lineup."

With the win, the Angels improved to 46-45 and stayed 11 games behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The Angels and Mariners are scheduled to open a three-game series at Angel Stadium on Tuesday.

Sunday's comeback kept the Angels from squandering another strong start from Heaney, who gave up three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out 10 over seven innings.

Heaney's lone blemish came in the second, when he issued a pair of walks to Matt Kemp and before hanging a curveball to , who hammered it out to center field. Puig later departed the game after suffering an oblique strain on a swing in the fifth inning. He's likely headed to the DL.

"After that inning, [Scioscia] could tell I was pretty hot," Heaney said. "He just came down and said, 'Hey, keep them at 3, we're going to score some runs and we're going to win this game.'"

Sure enough, the Angels then began their rally with two runs off Wood in the third. singled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on 's one-out single to right field. Puig fielded the ball and then fired to third in an attempt to nab Maldonado, allowing Fletcher to easily take second. After popped out in foul territory, was intentionally walked for an MLB-high 17th time this season to load the bases for with two outs.

Upton entered Sunday batting .161 with runners in scoring position, but he finally made the Dodgers pay for walking Trout, lining a two-run single to center field to trim the deficit to 3-2.

"Justin was in a little bit of a down cycle, but his process is good," Scioscia said. "He doesn't expand, he'll take his walks if they're there. When he starts squaring baseballs up, that's going to give us a big lift."

Heaney retired the next 12 batters he faced after Puig's home run, but he fell into trouble in the sixth after yielding back-to-back singles to and and walking Kemp to load the bases with two outs. That brought up , who bounced a grounder down the first-base line. Marte fielded the ball and threw to Heaney, who narrowly beat Bellinger to the bag for the final out of the inning.

The Dodgers challenged the call, but the ruling would stand following a review.

"It was huge," Heaney said. "You hate to get beat in big situations by base hits. You hate it even more whenever it's ground balls on the infield or beating the shift, or something like that. Those are the ones that really hurt, so I'm glad that wasn't a backbreaker."

The play loomed large in the bottom half of the inning, as launched a solo shot off Wood to tie the game at 3. It was Pujols' 13th home run of the season and his 1,276th career extra-base hit, passing Alex Rodriguez for sole possession of sixth place on the all-time list.

Rookie Justin Anderson worked around a one-out single to Kemp to post a scoreless ninth and pick up his fourth save of the season.


Heaney was a Dodger for a few hours in December 2014, acquired from the Marlins, then flipped to the Angels in the deal the same day.


The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Monday before continuing their homestand with a three-game series against the Mariners that begins on Tuesday night at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. (5-4, 3.42 ERA) will start opposite Mike Leake (8-5, 4.11 ERA) in the series opener. Richards, who is set to make his second start since returning from the disabled list, is 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA in 21 career appearances (13 starts) against the Mariners.