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Tony Gwynn Jr. drives in winning run as Dodgers rally for two in ninth to edge Angels, 3-2

June 26, 2011 |  4:30 pm

Dodgers1_350 If there’s such a thing as a flawed masterpiece, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw threw one on Sunday. If there’s such a thing as one-day redemption, the Angels’ Vernon Wells nearly experienced it.

But if there was someone who emerged as the unexpected hero, it was definitely the Dodgers’ Tony Gwynn Jr.

In a game that proved as wondrous a pitching duel between young aces Jered Weaver and Kershaw as anticipated, the Dodgers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to stun the Angels, 3-2, Sunday on a Gwynn hit.

It was the Dodgers’ fourth walk-off victory of the season, but this one was desperately needed, snapping a three-game losing streak during a difficult homestand, when the club went 4-8.

It also snapped the Dodgers’ six-game losing streak to the Angels at Dodger Stadium.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia thought they had extended it to seven games when Wells hit a solo home run off Kershaw in the ninth inning to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. A Gwynn triple had gone off Wells’ glove in the seventh to score the Dodgers’ first run and tie the score.

But the Dodgers rallied against Angels closer Jordan Walden in the bottom of the inning after he surrendered walks to Juan Uribe -- and following pinch-runner Dee Gordon steal of second base --  and Dioner Navarro. Jamey Carroll’s bunt sacrificed the runners up.

Pinch-hitter Aaron Miles then lifted a fly to center field, where Peter Bourjos caught it while moving forward and threw a near-perfect strike to catcher Jeff Mathis, who appeared to have the plate blocked.

Home plate umpire Tom Hallion, who was slightly out of position on the play, ruled Gordon slid in just ahead of the tag, a call Scioscia hotly contested.

That left it to Gwynn, who lined his single to right to score pinch-runner Trent Oeltjen without a play to the plate.

The beleaguered Dodgers mobbed Gwynn like they’d just won the pennant.

Early on, no one came close to scoring. Six terrific innings went by, and neither starter would blink.

Kershaw did not allow a hit until Maicer Izturis singled in the third, and he was erased on a double play. Gwynn led the Dodgers off in the first with a bunt single, and the Dodgers did not collect another hit until Andre Ethier doubled with one out in the fourth.

Matt Kemp followed with a soft single to left. Ethier did not get a good read on the hit, held up until it fell and only advanced to third. James Loney popped up and Uribe struck out on a pitch in his eyes to strand the runners.

The Angels broke through first in the seventh when Erick Aybar’s blooper fell between shortstop Carroll and Gwynn in left. Aybar sprinted for second and Gwynn’s throw would have been in time, but was slightly off, Aybar avoiding the tag by Uribe.

Howie Kendrick sent a sinking line drive to center that Kemp seemed uncertain whether to dive for or let bounce in front of him for a hit. He chose to dive and came up a couple feet short. He sprang up and fired home, but a tad late to get Aybar.

The Dodgers, however, came right back in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Kershaw singled off Weaver and then scored on a triple that hit the heel of Wells' glove as he ran it down at the warning track. He appeared to lose the ball in the sun.

Weaver left for a pinch-hitter after seven innings. He gave up the one run on seven hits and a walk. He struck out four.

Kershaw threw his second consecutive complete game, and raised his record to 8-3 with a 2.93 earned-run average. Kershaw also had double digits in strikeouts (11) in consecutive games for the first time in his career. He did not walk a batter.

Walden fell to 1-2 with the blown save.


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Photo: Tony Gywnn Jr. leaves the batter's box after connecting for a run-scoring triple off Angels starter Jered Weaver in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press