ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Maicer Izturis had an RBI single and scored the go-ahead run on Tommy Murphy's groundout, helping the Los Angeles Angels beat the Dodgers 4-2 Saturday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
The Angels won the three-game Freeway Series 2-1.Joe Saunders, beginning the season in the starting rotation along with Dustin Moseley because of injuries to Bartolo Colon and Jered Weaver, allowed two runs and nine hits over four innings and finished the spring 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts. The left-hander will make his regular-season debut Thursday against Oakland.The Dodgers' Brad Penny allowed three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits over five innings in his final tuneup before Friday's regular-season debut at San Francisco. The right-hander, limited to just 16 innings this spring because of shoulder stiffness, was 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in five starts.The Angels begin their season Monday against the Texas Rangers, with native Texan John Lackey making his second career opening-day start and first since 2003. Colon started the team's last three season openers."I'm ready to go, man. I think the other guys were about ready to get out of Arizona the last week or two," Lackey said. "It's nice to start a new season and hopefully make a run at it. We were definitely disappointed we didn't make the playoffs last year. I mean, we expect to be in the playoffs -- or at least be in the hunt pretty much every year."The Angels finished second in the AL West in 2006 after winning consecutive division titles. Everyone in the organization is eager to see what closer Francisco Rodriguez can do for an encore, after leading the majors with a franchise-record 47 saves and becoming the youngest player in history to record his 100th career save."It's a moment we've been waiting for a long time," said Rodriguez, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his only save of spring training. "We're ready for the challenge and trying to reach our goal, which is getting to the World Series. Last year we didn't get it done. We didn't make the playoffs, so we feel like we failed. And now it's time to make up for it, put the past behind us and start fresh this year."The traditional Freeway Series began a day early so that the Dodgers could use Sunday as a travel day before opening the season in Milwaukee on Monday. They got a taste of the postseason last year before losing the NL Division Series to the New York Mets. Now they want it all."I think we shape up pretty good," said new center fielder and leadoff hitter Juan Pierre, who won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003. "It everyone stays healthy, we've got as good a shot as anybody. But there's probably 29 other teams thinking that right now. So it's a matter of us going out there and doing it."I know people say we need a big bat and they're predicting we're not going to score a lot of runs," Pierre added, "but we're going to be fine because we've got guys who put the ball in play, hit balls in the gap and go from first to third."
For the first time in many years, the names "Salmon," "Erstad" and "Kennedy." do not appear above lockers in the Angels' clubhouse. The nameplates are now in the hands of their respective owners, courtesy of equipment manager Ken Higdon, who presented Darin Erstad with his when the Halos played the Chicago White Sox on March 17 in Tucson. ... Because of the decision by MLB to limit the number of coaches in the dugout during games -- and strictly enforce the rule -- Manny Mota will no longer make road trips with the Dodgers. He will only be in uniform working with the players before home games. "There's nothing we can do about it," manager Grady Little said. "Manny Mota's a legend for the Dodgers, on and off the field, and he has been for many years. His contributions in the community have been and will continue to be outstanding -- both in L.A. and the Dominican Republic."