ANAHEIM, Calif. — There wasn’t much indication that Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco had straightened himself out, not while he still led the American League in homers allowed.
Yet there he was Saturday night, his command sharp, hitters swinging wildly, with quick outs coming inning after inning.
Nolasco finished a three-hitter for his second straight scoreless outing, and Los Angeles beat the Seattle Mariners 4-0.
After losing seven consecutive games and watching his ERA swell to 5.23, Nolasco (4-9) has suddenly looked like a possible rotation leader for the Angels.
“I’ve been feeling really good for the last month and a half, to be honest,” Nolasco said. “It usually takes at least 50 innings for me as a starter. Now it’s just that time to keep it going all the way to October.”
Andrelton Simmons hit a solo home run in the second off rookie Sam Gaviglio (3-3) for the only run Nolasco would need.
Nolasco (4-9) did not walk a batter and struck out seven in his first complete game of the season. He was coming off 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mariners had beaten the Angels 10-0 on Friday night.
“That’s baseball,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Ricky Nolasco pitched a good game. We really couldn’t get anything going against him. He controlled the counts, so hat to him.”
Gaviglio allowed six runs, five hits and a walk.
This was Nolasco’s sixth career shutout, and the first by an Angels pitcher this season and the staff’s first complete game.
“That’s a team that scored a ton of runs last night and he shut them down,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “A terrific effort.
“As the game went on, I think he actually got better and more into his game. He was very aggressive and made some great pitches to get some outs.”
Nolasco was aided by some strong defense. Center fielder Cameron Maybin made a catch at the wall on Mitch Haniger’s drive in the third, and third baseman Yunel Escobar made a pair of backhanded stops on line drives in the first.
“Cam saved me a lot out there,” Nolasco said. “You have to have some luck, and they were hitting pretty hard at guys early in the game. I just sort of made better pitches from then on up.”
Seattle designate hitter Nelson Cruz left the game after his first at-bat with what the Mariners said was right knee discomfort. In his lone at-bat, he drove a pitch off the center field wall but was thrown out arriving late to second. It was his 37th birthday.
“He banged his knee when he slid into second,” Servais said. “Everything structurally was OK.”
Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (right shoulder inflammation) threw in the bullpen, but the team remains undecided on his next step. Iwakuma, 36, has not pitched since May 3. When his first attempt at rehabbing the shoulder went badly and the soreness continued, he was again shut down.
Angels: RHP Bud Norris (knee inflammation) was activated. … OF Mike Trout completed his second consecutive day of on-field batting practice. … LHP Andrew Heaney, who had Tommy John surgery last July 1, threw 90 pitches in four simulated innings and will next head to the team’s training facility in Phoenix. Said Scioscia: “Remarkable. Everything was as good as you could hope for.” Thought out for the season, the Angels now think Heaney may pitch in 2017.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (5-3) is scheduled to make his 13th start and seventh since coming off the disabled list, against the Angels on Sunday. Paxton is 3-2 lifetime (eight starts) against the Angels with a 2.12 ERA.
Angels: RHP Jesse Chavez (5-8) hopes to get his season turned around in Sunday’s series finale against the Mariners. He is 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA in his last eight starts. In 18 appearances against Seattle (eight starts) he is 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA.
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