Escobar hopes for better luck Sunday when the Angels wrap up a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Escobar (7-3, 2.89 ERA) struck out a career-high 14 batters Tuesday at Cincinnati, but didn’t receive a decision in the Angels’ 5-3 loss after allowing just three runs in six innings. His strikeout total was the highest for an Angels pitcher since Chuck Finley fanned 15 New York Yankees on May 23, 1995.
“I was able to put guys away with fastballs, splitters and sliders,” he said. “Everything was working good - my changeup, my fastball. I punched guys out with all of my pitches.”
The right-hander, who entered the year 25-28 in three seasons with the Angels after starting his career with Toronto, is off to a strong start in 2007. He has allowed just 10 runs in 38 innings over his last five starts - including five runs in a loss to Baltimore on May 31 - and pitched a three-hitter in a 5-1 win over Minnesota on June 5.
Escobar is 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers and threw eight scoreless innings in a 4-1 win against them on May 20.
He is part of an Angels’ rotation that leads the majors with 38 wins. Jered Weaver threw 5 1-3 innings Sunday to earn a 3-0 win over the Dodgers (39-29) and lead the Angels to their fourth shutout of the season.
However, the victory was a costly one for the AL West-leading Angels (43-26). Left fielder Garret Anderson, who was removed from the disabled list on June 3, re-aggravated his right hip while making a backhanded catch in the first inning and was placed back on the DL after the game.
First baseman Casey Kotchman sustained a concussion in the seventh after being hit in the helmet on an intended pickoff throw at second and went to a hospital for further testing.
“He was woozy,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, lost for the first time in five games and fell out of first place in the NL West, a half-game behind San Diego. The Dodgers had outscored their opponents 20-6 during their winning streak, but stranded nine runners on Saturday.
The Dodgers are adjusting to interim hitting coach Bill Mueller, who has taken over after the club fired Eddie Murray on Thursday.
“This will take time,” Mueller told the Dodgers’ official team Web site. “Players develop bad habits over a period of time and it takes time to correct. You’d love for it to happen in one at-bat - I know I did - but it rarely does.”
Randy Wolf (8-4, 4.06) will try to help the Dodgers earn a series win. He has won five of his last six starts, including Monday’s 5-3 win over the New York Mets in which he allowed three runs in six innings
Wolf has allowed 12 runs in 16 innings over his last three starts but is just one win shy of Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels for the NL lead.
“It’s about the full season, not just the first 2 1/2 months,” said Wolf, who has never faced the Angels.