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"I was focused on the task at hand, having the same good approach and the same good swing," Ethier said. "When you focus on that instead of the outcome good things happen."
Jamey Wright (3-2) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the victory. Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his 10th save in 13 opportunities as the Dodgers stopped their five-game skid at home.
Ethier's run-scoring single tied the game 2-2 hours after the right fielder received an $85 million, five-year contract from the team that goes through 2017. He leads the NL with 54 RBI.
He didn't realize he reached a career mark with the RBI that the sellout crowd of 55,279 almost seemed to demand.
"It's fun to see they're going to start stacking up in this Dodger uniform," Ethier said, adding that, "It's fun they have that much belief in you."
Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher visited the mound before Rivera drove Jerome Williams' next pitch to left field for a 5-2 lead. It was Williams' 102nd and final pitch.
"I tried to hit the ball hard," Rivera said, insisting the homer wasn't extra special because it came against his old team. "I just tried to do my job."
The entire inning was set up when second base umpire Joe West called Dee Gordon safe on a two-out stolen base. Television replays appeared to show the throw from catcher Hank Conger beat the runner. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued to no avail on his bobblehead night against his former team.
"Joe said he was safe. He said he saw his hand get in there," Scioscia said. "I don't need to see a replay. I thought he was out. Obviously, it's a big play. We didn't get the call to get out of the inning, but we had a lot of chances."
Williams (6-4) gave up five runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out a season-high seven and walked three in his second straight loss and first interleague start since July 4, 2004. The Angels' loss kept them from tying the club record for consecutive road wins, set in 1988.
"It's very difficult losing like that, but you can't let that bother you," Williams said. "Tomorrow I'm going to come back here and look at some video and try to get better."
Ethier showed off his defensive prowess with a diving catch of Maicer Izturis' sinking line drive to right field that ended the seventh with a runner on first.
"That ball gets down, there's a couple more runs that are scoring," Dodgers starter Aaron Harang said. "It got guys in the dugout fired up and the fans fired up."
The Dodgers tied the game 1-1 on Rivera's RBI single in the fourth, but the Angels regained the lead in the sixth on a bases-loaded error with two outs. Williams hit a fielder's choice grounder toward the middle that was fielded by former Angels second baseman Adam Kennedy, but Gordon got a late start covering the bag and dropped the toss from Kennedy as he reached the bag ahead of Conger.
"It was my fault," Gordon said. "We put Harang in a bad situation. I can't do that to him."
Williams doubled with one out in the third and the Angels loaded the bases on a two-out walk by Torii Hunter and a single by Albert Pujols. Kendrys Morales hit a grounder to Kennedy, who was playing on the outfield grass as the Dodgers overshifted against Morales. But Kennedy booted the ball, allowing Williams to score the game's first run.
Harang gave up two runs -- both unearned -- and six hits in seven innings, with five strikeouts and four walks.
"It was nice to be able to go out and keep us in the game," he said. "It comes down to who scores that last run. Those are fun games to be in."
- Pujols made his second strart of the season and 95th of his career at third base before moving over to his usual first base position in the seventh.
- With his third-inning single, Pujols became one of nine active players with 4,000 career total bases. He now has 4,002.
- His double in the seventh gave Pujols multihit efforts in a career-high seven consecutive games.
- Gordon stole three bases.
- The Angels transferred OF Vernon Wells to the 60-day disabled list.
- They optioned OF Kole Calhoun to Triple-A Salt Lake after Monday night's game and selected RHP David Pauley to the major league roster.
- Angels C Bobby Wilson was to play in a rehab game Tuesday night with Inland Empire.
- The Kings will bring the Stanley Cup to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night, with their players throwing out the first pitch.