Kershaw recovered from a rocky start to pitch seven innings of seven-hit ball, but he gave up three early runs to the Angels' resourceful lineup. The two-time Cy Young winner didn't get a win for just the second time in his 12 starts since May.
"It was a struggle at first, [and] I really don't know why," Kershaw said. "I was just missing. They're a great team, and they're going to hit mistakes. And sometimes they're going to hit pitches that aren't mistakes."
"It's all about putting a good, quality swing on the ball," Ethier said.
Freese was charged with his second throwing error of the night when Chris Iannetta couldn't hang on to the ball for the Angels (67-45), who dropped two games behind Oakland in the AL West.
"The ball just didn't have enough pace on it for David to get it and make a throw in one motion," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "On the defensive end, we hurt ourselves. Against a good club, we've got to play a clean game, especially against a guy like Clayton Kershaw."
Pujols and Iannetta had RBI doubles for the Angels, who made three errors and got just one hit after the third inning. Hector Santiago yielded five hits and three walks while pitching into the sixth.
The Dodgers went ahead on an unearned run without a hit in the sixth. Matt Kemp reached on Freese's first throwing error and eventually scored on Scott Van Slyke's fly. Kenley Jansen (2-3) struck out the side in the ninth.
STAR VS STAR
Mike Trout went 2-for-3 in facing Kershaw in the regular season for the first time in the Southern California stars' careers.
"I love watching a guy like that," said Trout, who has a 20-game hitting streak in interleague play. "It's pretty cool facing him."
Trout beat out an infield single in the first inning, and he laced a double down the line on the first pitch of the third. Kershaw, who hadn't pitched against the Angels since 2011, struck Trout out looking on three pitches in the fifth.
"I'm not going to talk about individual at-bats," Kershaw said. "I mean, he's a great hitter, and he got two hits tonight, so tip your cap."
Pujols' eighth-inning homer was his 513th, which moved him past Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks for 21st all-time. The shot was his first since July 9 and ended a 21-game drought.
Angels: Left-hander Tyler Skaggs is resting his strained left forearm before the team decides on a rehabilitation plan.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (9-3, 4.09 ERA) takes the mound when the Freeway Series shifts to Anaheim. The surprising right-hander has won four of five starts.
Dodgers: Dan Haren (8-9, 4.76 ERA) pitched for the Angels from 2010-12 but hasn't faced them since 2007.