• Baseball

Freeman Homers Off Ohtani, and Dodgers Sweep Angels with 2-0 Victory

AP Photo/Ashley Landis
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Freddie Freeman hit his 14th homer off Shohei Ohtani in the fourth inning, and seven relievers combined on a two-hitter in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ second straight shutout victory in the Freeway Series, 2-0 over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.

Ohtani (6-3) pitched seven innings of five-hit ball with two walks and 12 strikeouts, one off his career high. The two-way superstar was outstanding in his first career mound start against the Dodgers, who are likely to be one of his most ardent suitors in free agency this winter.

“I definitely felt way better this time than last time (on the mound),” Ohtani said through his translator. “I felt the most comfortable on the mound so far this year.”

But Ohtani went 0 for 7 at the plate in these two rivalry games against the Dodgers, while Mike Trout went 0 for 8. The former AL MVPs’ teammates weren’t much better while the Angels were shut out for the second and third time this season.

“I was sort of a fan tonight watching (Ohtani),” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Really kept us at bay — you could argue dominated us. … Just to be a starting pitcher, to hold down a lineup like this, and then to go out there and hit at the top of the order, it’s remarkable.”

Miguel Vargas homered in the ninth inning, and Evan Phillips capped a stellar bullpen game by picking up his ninth save to conclude the Dodgers’ eighth consecutive victory over the Angels. This mini-sweep interrupted the Dodgers’ 4-10 skid before they traveled to Anaheim.

“It was really a clinic for our ‘pen,” Roberts said. “They all did what they needed to do tonight. Every single one of those guys did a fantastic job, and then we got some timely hitting.”

Ohtani allowed only an infield single in his first three innings, but Freeman led off the fourth by hammering an 0-1 cutter to the base of the fake rock pile beyond center field at Angel Stadium, where Freeman spent plenty of time while growing up 10 minutes away in Orange County as an Angels fan.

Freeman said he had about 30 friends and family members occupying a full suite at the Big A for the series.

“It’s pretty nice when you look up and see a whole suite jumping up and down,” Freeman said.

The Halos were shut out just once in their first 74 games, but after Clayton Kershaw shut them down in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win Tuesday, they were overwhelmed by the Dodgers’ bullpen, which had the majors’ second-worst ERA two days ago before throwing 11 combined shutout innings of two-hit ball in Anaheim.

“The bullpen games, I’ve seen it with other teams, it’s hard to score when you’re facing a different pitcher each time,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “It’s facts. You go through the numbers, it’s hard to do that. But we had some chances.”

Luis Rengifo had both hits for the Angels, who were on an 11-3 surge before completely losing their offensive mojo in front of two sellout crowds packed with fans of both teams.

The Angels had a runner called out at the plate for the second straight night when Rengifo tried to score from third on Mickey Moniak’s fly ball in the third inning. David Peralta threw out Rengifo from left.

Ohtani stranded two runners in the fourth after Freeman’s homer, and he stranded two more in the sixth before leaving to a big ovation after the seventh.

Brusdar Graterol opened for the Dodgers with two hitless innings, and Victor Gonzalez (2-2) followed him with 1 1/3 innings. Longtime Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier later recorded four consecutive outs in his Dodgers debut.