Escobar strikes out five as Angels complete interleague sweep

" Losing effort: Derek Lowe's effort wasn't bad, but the Dodgers couldn't get him any run support. Lowe pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out six.

" Unsung heroes: Vladimir Guerrero was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI while Casey Kotchman was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI.

" Figure this: Kotchman is 12-for-28 with eight RBIs in his last nine games.

" Elias Says: The Dodgers are 1-20 in interleague road games since 2005, the worst such mark in the majors over that span.

" Quotable: "They pitched well, and we didn't take advantage of
opportunities. Yeah, it's the Freeway Series, sellout crowds, and half the stadium were our fans, which was cool. I'm sorry, but the best way we can look at it right now -- because we're big-picture people -- is that it's just three games." -- Dodgers' Jeff Kent

-- ESPN.com news services

Angels 4, Dodgers 1

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Kelvim Escobar has been terrific in three of his last four starts, allowing only 16 hits and one run in 24 innings.

In the one bad outing, he gave up eight hits and eight runs -- six earned -- in 2 1/3 innings.

Escobar's explanation? Well, he doesn't have one.

"It's one of those things you can't explain about baseball," the 31-year-old right-hander said after pitching eight scoreless innings Sunday, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers and a sweep of their three-game interleague series.

The Angels have beaten the Dodgers in 14 of their last 17 meetings at Angel Stadium, including 9-1 on Friday night and 6-2 on Saturday night. They outscored their local rivals 19-4 in the matchup of division leaders.

"They pitched well, and we didn't take advantage of opportunities," said Jeff Kent, who drove in the Dodgers' only run. "Yeah, it's the Freeway Series, sellout crowds, and half the stadium were our fans, which was cool. I'm sorry, but the best way we can look at it right now -- because we're big-picture people -- is that it's just three games."

Escobar (5-2) gave up hits to two of the first three batters he faced, but only one after that. He walked two, struck out five and hit a batter before being relieved by Scot Shields to start the ninth.

Escobar gave up six hits and one run in seven innings in a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on April 29, and pitched a complete-game seven-hitter in an 8-0 triumph over Cleveland on May 4. Then came the debacle last Tuesday night, when the Angels lost to the Mariners 11-3.

"It was such a weird game in Seattle. I knew that from the beginning," he said. "I didn't pitch well, we didn't make the plays. I wasn't throwing strikes, I didn't have any command of my fastball. I tried to throw my secondary pitches, and they hit them.

"You have to turn the page, and that's what I did."

The Angels extended their winning streak to a season-high five games, and have won 10 of their last 12 to move a season-high nine games over .500. They lead second-place Oakland by four games in the AL West.

"The offensive side, we found some chemistry," Angels manager Mike Scioscia replied when asked about his team's recent hot streak. "On the defensive end, we're making the plays we have to. The one constant has been the pitching."

The opposition has scored a total of 17 runs in the Angels' most recent 10 wins.

Kent hit a two-out RBI double in the ninth to chase Shields. Francisco Rodriguez threw a called third strike past Olmedo Saenz for the final out to earn his 13th save in 14 chances.

The Angels scored an unearned run off Derek Lowe (4-5) in the first on a double by Vladimir Guerrero, an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit, and an RBI single by Casey Kotchman.

The Angels made it 4-0 in the fifth on Guerrero's two-out infield hit with the bases loaded, a throwing error by shortstop Rafael Furcal on the play, and an RBI single by Gary Matthews Jr..

Lowe had retired eight straight batters before Erick Aybar and Jose Molina singled to start the fifth. Lowe got two outs before Orlando Cabrera's infield hit loaded the bases. Furcal fielded Guerrero's grounder up the middle, but his throw to first was late and off-target. Two runs scored on the play, and Matthews followed by grounding a single into center.

"It definitely was an eventful inning that opened the game up for them," Lowe said. "That's the thing about being a ground-ball pitcher. You've got to take the good with the bad. Sometimes they find holes, sometimes they hit 'em at people."

Lowe gave up nine hits and four runs, three earned, while walking none and striking six in his second complete game of the season. He has all three of the Dodgers' complete games in the last two seasons.

Game notes
The Angels have a 33-26 record against the Dodgers since interleague play began in 1997. They are 28-17 against their local rivals since Scioscia became their manager in 2000. ... The Dodgers have lost 20 of their last 21 interleague road games. ... The Angels scored in the first inning in all three games of the series. They've outscored their opponents 48-15 in the first, and have a 19-3 record when scoring in the opening inning. ... Even with this series loss, the Dodgers are 9-4-2 in their 15 series this season. ... Angels INF-OF Chone Figgins, mired in an 0-for-22 slump, got the day off. ... The game was played before a capacity crowd of 44,301. All three games of the series were sellouts, and the total attendance of 133,023 was the largest for a three-game series at Angel Stadium since it was renovated in 1998.