LOS ANGELES -- Young Nathan Eovaldi still can't catch a break. Yet again, the Dodgers' offense fell flat with the righty on the mound and a ninth-inning rally came up just short as the Angels held on to win, 2-1, Wednesday night to take two out of three games at Dodger Stadium.
The 22-year-old has thrown 24 2/3 innings since being called up, and in his four starts the Dodgers have been able to muster just two runs.
"Wins will come," the soft-spoken Eovaldi said after the loss. "I just have to keep battling out there to keep us in the game."
At one point in the ninth, it appeared a Dodgers win was still possible. One night after they pulled out a comeback victory in the eighth inning, A.J. Ellis drew a leadoff walk and James Loney singled to right to put runners on the corners with no outs in the final frame.
The next batter, Juan Uribe, then grounded to shortstop Erick Aybar, who threw home with Ellis charging from third after being told to run on contact. With catcher John Hester holding on to the ball, Ellis headed back for third as Loney and Uribe raced around the bases. Ellis was tagged out, but he backtracked long enough for Loney to sneak into third and Uribe to reach second with only one out.
But closer Ernesto Frieri, who hasn't allowed a run in 18 1/3 innings since joining the Angels, regrouped and struck out Tony Gwynn and got former Angel Bobby Abreu to ground out to end the threat.
"Late there we gave ourselves a chance to win," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's that type of series. They are playing well. We feel like we're a good club. You're not really giving in to anything."
In the top half of that inning, Mattingly brought in closer Kenley Jansen to get through the bottom of the Angels' order and preserve a tied ballgame.
Jansen, who gave up an RBI single to Albert Pujols in the ninth on Monday to take the loss in the series opener, ran into trouble immediately. On a third-pitch cutter, Aybar drilled the ball to right field for his first homer of the season, breaking the tie and giving Jansen his second loss in three days.
"I'm not sure if he got the ball where he wanted," Mattingly said. "We asked for a lot from Kenley. He was out there for the third straight day."
"Can't worry about it," Jansen said. "It's two times. You've got to go out there and be aggressive and keep pitching and have a short memory."
Continuing to pitch is what Eovaldi keeps on doing, despite the lack of run support. He gave up only one run in six innings while allowing seven hits and walking two as the Dodgers struggled to offer offensive backing.
The lone came in the first inning, when Andre Ethier smacked a two-out double past the reach of a sprinting Torii Hunter in right field to score Elian Herrera from first. It was Ethier's National League-leading 55th RBI.
From there, the offense disappeared for the Dodgers. Singles by Loney and Uribe in the second and a Juan Rivera single in the fourth was all the hitting the team was able to do until the bottom of the ninth.
On a night when the Los Angeles Kings brought the Stanley Cup to Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers, who lead the NL West by 3 1/2 games, looked far from a championship-caliber team offensively.
Regardless, thanks to Eovaldi and an ability to draw seven walks, the team hung in there the entire game.
"The Dodgers are obviously one of the best teams in baseball with the record they have," said Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who gave up four hits and one run while walking five in seven innings. "You see it every inning, they had guys on base. They had a really good approach at the plate, so we're going to have to make so adjustments the next time we play them."
Eovaldi and relievers Ronald Belisario and Josh Lindblom did their best to keep the game close.
Eovaldi gave up a second-inning homer to Alberto Callaspo, but he didn't give the Angels much else by pitching out of jams in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
The Angels had Mark Trumbo and Pujols on second and third in the first inning, but Eovaldi buckled down and struck out Howie Kendrick swinging.
In the fourth, he gave up a pair of singles and walked a batter to load the bases. But the Dodgers starter got out of the jam when he got Aybar to ground into a 3-2-3 double play and then stuck out Hester.
"Getting out of that situation was huge," Eovaldi said. "Defensively they played well behind me. I tried to keep us in the game as long as possible."
Eovaldi came through again the next inning when he struck out Trumbo with Mike Trout on second and Pujols on first to end the frame.
"Nate has been great," Mattingly said. "He's got a chance to be really good. He's going to be something to deal with."
Alex Angert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.