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Angels beat Dodgers to clinch "Freeway Series"

ANAHEIM (Reuters) - Russell Branyan's two-run homer in the seventh inning earned the Los Angeles Angels a 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday, giving them the honors in the 'Freeway Series' between the intra-state rivals.

The victory gave the Angels (44-41) four wins in the six-game season series with the Dodgers (37-48), and helped starting pitcher Ervin Santana end a month-long spell without a win.

Santana allowed a run-scoring double to James Loney in the sixth, but struck out eight batters in 7 2/3 innings to earn his first win since May 25.

"Whew -- long time," a smiling Santana told reporters of his win. "It's OK. I've been pitching pretty good even though I haven't gotten wins. I have to keep it up, stay positive and keep pitching."

Jordan Walden made sure of the victory by pitching the ninth for his 19th save of the season.

The Angels' offense made their move in the seventh, tying the game on Bobby Abreu's run before Branyan blasted the homer off Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley. Billingsley (7-7) pitched eight innings in the loss.

Branyan's timely homer was his first since the 35-year-old signed for the Angels as a free agent in May.

"It's not like I'm tearing the cover off the ball," Branyan said. "I got a chance to be up there in an important situation and came through. It felt great."

The Angels' eighth win in the last 10 games vaulted them into a tie for first place in the American League West with the Texas Rangers.

The Dodgers have lost four of their last five games and remain in last place in the National League West.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Peter Rutherford; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)