"It feels good. I know we got swept here last year. It is a big win," said Juan Pierre, who scored twice, including in the seventh as Russell Martin engaged the defense in a rundown. "The guy who was pitching is having a good year. We scraped our way to a victory."
The Dodgers hung the first loss of the season on Angels starter Ervin Santana (6-1), as rookie Blake DeWitt went 2-for-4 and belted his fourth home run of the year, and Martin went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six games.
But the mound also proved to be a bright spot on a day Los Angeles was forced to scratch Brad Penny from his scheduled Sunday start due to arm stiffness. He'll go Monday against the Reds, with Derek Lowe pitching the series finale against the Angels.
Taking the ball in a spot start Saturday was Chan Ho Park, who had been pitching exclusively from the bullpen, but was called to start his first game since April 30, 2007, and first for the Dodgers since Oct. 5, 2001.
The right-hander shook off a walk to the first batter and then cruised through three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fourth that was extended by James Loney's throwing error.
Park allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and two walks over four innings, and he went deep enough to bridge the gap to Hong-Chih Kuo, who came on in relief and tossed four scoreless frames. Takashi Saito allowed a run in the ninth.
"That is the second time he's done that. He came on and he dominated," manager Joe Torre said of Kuo (3-1). "Park did a great job. He just had to get too many outs. It was a long inning."
Torre had earmarked Park for 85-90 pitches on the afternoon, and the veteran ended up tossing 82, but the long fourth ended his day and likely cost him the victory.
Park hit Vladimir Guerrero with a pitch with one out in the fourth inning, and Garret Anderson followed with a single to right that advanced Guerrero to third. Casey Kotchman then hit a chopper to first that appeared to be a double-play ball to end the inning, but Loney airmailed the throw over the head of shortstop Chin-lung Hu, who was covering second.
"That's just experience," Torre said. "Normally, lefties don't have trouble with that throw, but it sailed on him."
Guerrero scored and Anderson went to third on the play, and he later scored on a similar ground ball by Maicer Izturis, with Loney making the throw for the sure out at second on the fielder's choice.
Robb Quinlan followed with a base hit and Jeff Mathis walked before Park got Erick Aybar to bounce into a fielder's choice to end the inning, but the hot day had taken its toll.
Martin said Park's command was sharp, but he was more effusive in his praise of Kuo, who gave up three hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter to pick up the win.
"Kuo comes out of the bullpen throwing 95 [mph] and hitting his spots," Martin said. "He gets himself in trouble, but when he's like that, he is a dominating pitcher."
DeWitt continued his impressive run through the first few weeks of his big league career, adding a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the second that also scored Andruw Jones.
A fan appeared to make an attempt to catch the ball at the top of the wall in right, but the ball fell to the ground. First-base umpire Gerry Davis immediately ruled the ball a homer, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued without success.
"Blake has been great. He has a personality and a calmness about him that doesn't fit," Torre said of DeWitt's maturity. "You say to him, 'You start the season at third base and we don't even want to know you're there. Just don't hurt us.' But he has done a lot to help us win games."
Keeping that never-say-quit attitude was the tandem of Pierre and Russell in the seventh. Pierre got aboard on an error by Izturis and stole second before advancing to third on Andre Ethier's fly ball to center.
Martin was walked intentionally, and with Loney at the plate and a 3-1 count, Martin took off on a hit-and-run -- except Loney froze and didn't swing. Martin was caught in a rundown, but forced the Angels to make four throws, and on the last, Pierre took off for home and scored.
"That is one of those things that is just instinct. Russell did a good job staying in the rundown," Pierre said. "Scoring a run without getting a hit, that is what I like to do. I like to make things happen."