ANAHEIM, Calif. — Brandon Finnegan was in dominant form on the mound. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout weren’t in the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup at all.
The Cincinnati Reds still couldn’t get it done in another dismaying loss.
Ricky 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 Reds with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.
Finnegan (8-10) struck out nine during seven strong innings of five-hit ball for the Reds (55-77), who have lost four straight and eight of 10.
Cincinnati managed only one extra-base hit against Nolasco (5-12), who hadn’t thrown a shutout since Sept. 9, 2012. Ramon Cabrera doubled and reached third with one out in the sixth, but Nolasco coolly retired Zack Cozart and Joey Votto.
And that was their final threat to Nolasco, who retired the final 12 hitters with his slider moving splendidly. The punchless Reds have scored six runs in four games following their 13-run outburst at Arizona last weekend.
“It’s certainly a step back from where we’ve been, but that’s the ebb and flow of the season,” Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said.
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 C.J. Cron’s two-out single to center. Jefry Marte then drove in Cron from first with a double to the right-field corner.
“I’ve put together some good starts lately,” Finnegan said. “I don’t have the giddy-up in the fastball that I usually do, but my changeup plays well. It’s been helping me out.”
Finnegan didn’t walk a batter in his first career start against the Angels, but he finished up an impressive August with 50 strikeouts — and three losses.
“(Finnegan is) a kid who has evolved into a three-pitch pitcher with command who is pitching to both sides of the plate,” 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.”
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.
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 had gone winless with a 5.70 ERA in his first five starts for the Angels, who acquired the native of nearby Corona, California, 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.”
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.