ANAHEIM (AP) — Although the shutout pleased Ricky Nolasco, he would have preferred to pitch this superbly a whole lot earlier in the season.
The rest of his fellow Los Angeles Angels realize they also waited far too long to get rolling this year.
Even if this season is lost, the right-hander and his new team both enjoyed a victory requiring no help from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Nolasco pitched a four-hitter for his fifth career shutout and his first victory for Los Angeles, leading the Angels to an interleague sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.
C.J. Cron drove in two runs for the Angels (59-74), who have won five straight and eight of 10 to climb out of last place in the AL West.
Nolasco (5-12) had gone winless with a 5.70 ERA in his first five starts for the Angels, who acquired the native of nearby Corona from Minnesota at the trade deadline. He finally came up with a gem against the Reds, and he even won at home for the first time in 16 consecutive starts with the Twins and Angels.
“Obviously, I would have liked to win earlier, but I like where I’m at, as far as where I’m throwing the ball,” Nolasco said. “I feel good. I’m eating up innings, and I’m just trying to give my team a chance to win games.”
With his slider moving splendidly, Nolasco retired 12 straight Reds to end it. The shutout was his first since Sept. 9, 2012, and his 11th career complete game was his first since May 2, 2014.
“I know it’s been a while, but I’ll enjoy it for the rest of the night with the family,” Nolasco said. “It’s definitely nice, a good feeling being out there and trying to get the last out.”
Los Angeles even won without Pujols and Trout, who didn’t play in an early starting game before the Angels’ day off. Trout and Pujols didn’t start in the same game for the first time since Sept. 18, 2014.
Brandon Finnegan (8-10) struck out nine during seven strong innings of five-hit ball for the Reds, who have lost four straight and eight of 10.
“(Finnegan is) a kid who has evolved into a three-pitch pitcher with command who is pitching to both sides of the plate,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said. “(He) has kind of found a devastating changeup (and) the ability to throw a slider for a quality strike when he’s behind in the count and locate his fastball. … His development has been exceptional. Really a highlight of the season.”
Finnegan had only one poor inning during the former Royals reliever’s latest strong start for the last-place Reds.
He had retired nine straight before the sixth, when Andrelton Simmons popped a double and scored on Cron’s two-out single to center. Jefry Marte then drove in Cron from first with a double to the right-field corner.
Nolasco faced more trouble than Finnegan, but still escaped jams caused by errors by Marte and Kaleb Cowart. Ramon Cabrera got to third with one out in the sixth for Cincinnati, but Nolasco coolly retired Zack Cozart and Joey Votto.
“He has pitched some good games for us, better than his linescores have shown,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Despite their dismal overall record, the Angels matched Cleveland for the major league lead with their 10th shutout of the season. They have six shutouts since the All-Star break, tying Cincinnati for the big-league lead.
Reds: Dan Straily and Tim Adleman will move up one day in Cincinnati’s rotation this weekend to give extra rest to Homer Bailey, who has a sore muscle in his right arm.
Angels: The club has no plans to shut down Pujols despite some nagging plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Scioscia said. Pujols, who hit his 586th homer earlier this week, has managed plantar fasciitis in his left foot for long stretches of his career.
Reds: After a travel day, Anthony DeSclafani (8-2, 2.96 ERA) opens a homestand against St. Louis.
Angels: After a day off, Brett Oberholtzer (3-2, 5.16 ERA) makes his second start since the Angels claimed him off waivers from Philadelphia. He made it through just three innings at Detroit last weekend.
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