CINCINNATI (AP) — Two games in, and the Angels haven’t gotten much from the formidable middle of their order.
Los Angeles relied on the bottom of the lineup again, and it wasn’t enough this time. Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer, and Joey Votto singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory on Wednesday night.
With that, the Angels and Reds have split the first two games of the first season-opening interleague series in major league history.
The Angels’ power hitters have failed to connect. Albert Pujols is 0 for 7 with two strikeouts. Josh Hamilton — signed for $125 million in the offseason — is 0 for 8 with three strikeouts. No. 5 hitter Mark Trumbo has a pair of singles and has fanned four times.
“Those guys are going to hit in the middle,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We just have to keep constant on the defensive side and we’re going to be fine.”
The Angels have committed five errors in the two games. They’ve also struck out 27 times, including 17 times in the opener.
Left-hander Scott Downs (0-1) came on to pitch the ninth and hit Shin-Soo Choo with his first pitch. After a sacrifice, Votto hit a hard grounder that deflected off Pujols’ glove at first base and rolled into the outfield, allowing Choo to score.
Votto had been 0 for 6 heading into his final at-bat.
“It was a tough play,” Scioscia said. “Albert’s a terrific defensive player. It was hit pretty hard. It just got by him.”
Phillips moved into the cleanup spot because of Ryan Ludwick’s injury and hit the Reds’ first homer of the season. He connected for a three-run shot against C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning, when Cincinnati sent nine batters to the plate for four runs.
The cut fastball to Phillips wandered back over the plate instead of staying on the outside part.
“I got away with a couple of pitches earlier in the game,” Wilson said. “Phillips was just on me tonight.
“It wasn’t a good pitch at all. It’s not like it was up and in. It was a cutter that cut right into his swing, right into his happy zone.”
Left-hander Aroldis Chapman (1-0) walked one in the ninth, throwing a 99 mph pitch that hit the backstop screen.
Mat Latos, who took the loss in the deciding Game 5 of Cincinnati’s playoff series against San Francisco last season, left with a 4-3 lead in the seventh. He gave up a solo homer by Howie Kendrick, and a two-run shot by Alberto Callaspo on his 100th and final pitch.
The Angels tied it with the help of third baseman Todd Frazier’s error in the eighth, pulling even on Trumbo’s run-scoring groundout.
The Reds had to juggle their lineup for the second game of the season, and it’s not going back anytime soon.
Ludwick had surgery on Wednesday to repair torn cartilage in his right shoulder, injured on a slide on opening day. He’s expected to miss at least three months.
Phillips moved from second in the batting order into Ludwick’s cleanup spot, where he’ll stay for the foreseeable future. Reserve outfielder Chris Heisey becomes the everyday left fielder while Ludwick recuperates.
The new lineup had one very good inning.
Heisey walked in the fourth inning, and so did Votto. Phillips, who flied out to the warning track in his first at-bat, then homered for a 3-0 lead. It was a breakthrough for the Reds, who managed only three hits and one run — on a wild pitch — during a 3-1, 13-inning loss on opening day.
Jay Bruce followed with a double and scored on Frazier’s single.
Latos was on his game at the outset Wednesday, fanning seven in the first five innings. Once again, the bottom of the Angels’ order produced the most.
NOTES: It was 49 degrees and breezy at the first pitch. … The Angels are 5-3 all-time against Cincinnati, including interleague series in 2002 and 2007. … The Reds called up 25-year-old OF Derrick Robinson to take Ludwick’s roster spot. He’ll make his major league debut. … Bruce celebrated his 26th birthday. He went 1 for 4. … Bronson Arroyo makes his seventh career start against the Angels in the series finale. He’s 1-2 against them. L. A. starts Joe Blanton, who is 2-0 career against Cincinnati.