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Dodgers ace Zack Greinke gets early hook -- and the win

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The managers for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels seemed to burn a trail from the dugout to the mound Monday night, taking advantage of the expanded rosters to make 14 pitching changes over the final five innings.

In the end, the Dodgers held on for a 7-5 victory at Angel Stadium to increase their lead in the National League West to 8½ games, but few seemed pleased with the quality of the nearly four-hour performance.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke said of the game’s pace. “They should probably look into this not happening anymore because it’s not exciting to watch.”

Major league teams are allowed to expand their rosters from 25 players to 40 after Aug. 31 and that often leads to managers going deep into their bullpens to take advantage of matchups. Between the fifth and eighth innings alone, Angels manager Mike Scioscia used seven different relievers.

“It was definitely a September game,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Even the decision to pull Greinke after six innings and a season-low 89 pitches seemed a bit rushed, but Mattingly didn’t see the same life on Greinke’s pitches that he’s used to witnessing. Greinke, who improved to 16-3 while his ERA climbed to 1.68, surrendered multiple home runs for just the second time this season and missed his spots on several other pitches.

After giving up a game-tying two-run homer to Kole Calhoun in the fifth, Greinke struck out Mike Trout on a hanging curve ball. Greinke lifted his arms in the air and stared to the sky in bewilderment.

“It was kind of a spot that people don’t hit real well, but you never try to throw it there,” he said. “If I didn’t just give up a homer to Calhoun, then I wouldn’t be so mad, but it was another mistake right away.”

Mattingly said the sixth inning was Greinke’s best of the night, but with Calhoun set to bat third in the seventh, he decided to go with left-hander Luis Avilan. That moved nearly backfired as right-handed hitters Carlos Perez and Taylor Featherston greeted Avilan with singles and both would eventually score to cut the deficit to 6-5.

Mattingly would ultimately use four relievers in the seventh inning.

“It was just one of those games,” Mattingly said. “A crazy one.”