Rivera homers to lift Angels 5-4 win over Dodgers

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Juan Rivera(notes) was facing Guillermo Mota(notes) in the eighth, trying to find a pitch to hit. He fouled off four of them before hitting a breaking ball over the left field wall.

Rivera’s tiebreaking homer put the Angels up for good and the bullpen held on for a 5-4 win over the Dodgers on Friday night.

“It looked like it was a strike slider,” Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre said. “Those sliders were meant to go through the strike zone and say `hello,’ not `goodbye,’ and that’s what happened.”

Rivera, who has four home runs in his last five games, was looking for a good pitch all night.

“Mainly I wanted to get on base,” Rivera said. “Mota kept coming after me with fastballs, but that was the best at-bat throughout the night. It was a changeup or a splitter, something spinning.”

Justin Speier(notes) (3-1) got the last out of the eighth and Brian Fuentes(notes) got his AL-leading 19th save by striking out Matt Kemp(notes) to end it.

Joe Saunders(notes) gave up four runs on six hits in 6 1-3 innings, including a bases-loaded walk to Casey Blake(notes) in the third before giving up a solo shot to Loney in the fourth and a two-run homer to Furcal one inning later that put the Dodgers up 4-1.

“I was struggling to make pitches all night. It was a matter of who can outlast who and Billingsley and I were both battling out there,” Saunders said. “It’s kind of one of those nights where you know you don’t have anything. It’s disappointing, but you can’t pick or choose whether you’ve got your stuff that night.”

Taking a tie game into the seventh—after Maicer Izturis(notes) hit a two-run single and Mike Napoli(notes) hit a sacrifice fly to score Kendry Morales(notes)—was enough.

The bullpen did the rest, though not without drama. Speier came on with men on first and second in the eighth and walked Mark Loretta(notes) before retiring Juan Pierre(notes) on a foul to left.

“The only way you’re going to beat good teams is go out-by-out and grind it out and that’s what we did today,” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said. “We had to use a lot of pitching tonight but we got it done. The bullpen did a good job and got some big outs late in the game.”

More than 44,000 packed the stands to watch the crosstown rivalry. The Dodgers (44-24) have the best record in baseball and the Angels extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games.

Saturday’s game should bring in more fans, as the Angels’ Jered Weaver(notes) faces big brother Jeff in an anticipated pitching matchup.

“Hopefully he goes out there and gives us a chance to win,” Scioscia said.

A 4-1 lead, backed by homers from James Loney(notes) and Rafael Furcal(notes), wasn’t enough for the Dodgers.

Billingsley, attempting to become the NL’s first 10-game winner, gave up four runs on six hits.

“We had a three-run lead—which is really rich for us, because we don’t do that very often. Unfortunately, Bills just didn’t have the kind of command that he can have and we couldn’t get the job done,” Torre said. “He was battling command all night. Tonight they were better than we were. They’re a good team. We know that.”

Blake had two spectacular grabs at third base. He made a barehanded pickup to start a 5-3-6 double play that ended with Chone Figgins(notes) being tagged out at third to end the first and made a diving catch in foul territory to get the Dodgers out of a bases-loaded jam in the following inning.

Aybar made a last-second adjustment to pick up Loney’s groundout to end the second for the Angels.

NOTES: Torre wouldn’t specify when Manny Ramirez(notes) would begin his minor league stint. The Los Angeles Times said that Ramirez would play with Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, but Torre was mum. “I’m not at liberty to tell you anything,” said Torre before the game. … Angels’ pitcher Ervin Santana(notes) will throw a bullpen session this weekend, Scioscia said. Santana missed the first six weeks of the season because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow. … Dodgers RHP James McDonald(notes) was recalled from Albuquerque on Friday to replace RHP Travis Schlichting(notes), who was optioned to Albuquerque.

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