No­lasco strug­gling to keep ball out of stands

Right-han­der gives up two more home runs, run­ning sea­son to­tal to 21, and hasn’t won since April 27.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - sports@la­times.com By Steve Dil­beck

Frus­tra­tion has a new face for the An­gels. It looks like Ricky “Long Ball” No­lasco.

No­lasco is the An­gels righthander who can look near bril­liant one mo­ment and in the next like a pitcher who can never sur­ren­der a hit that doesn’t leave va­por trails be­hind it.

No­lasco tried for the ninth time to win for the first time since April 27 and for the ninth time failed, the An­gels fall­ing to the Kansas City Roy­als 7-2 on a warm Thurs­day night in Ana­heim.

He was not helped along by a non-sup­port­ive of­fense, but nei­ther did he do much for his own cause, giv­ing up five runs on 10 hits — al­most all well struck — and walk­ing two in six-plus in­nings.

Two of the hits were home runs, con­tin­u­ing a trou­bling theme to his sea­son. He has given up an Amer­i­can League-high 21 home runs.

“It’s def­i­nitely frus­trat­ing,” No­lasco said. “Those two balls just snuck out to­day. It’s some­thing that re­ally hasn’t been an is­sue my whole ca­reer but for some rea­son this year it is. I just have to make bet­ter pitches.”

No­lasco fell to 2-8, his ERA climb­ing to 5.01. All five An­gels cur­rently in the ro­ta­tion have an ERA of more than 4.00.

An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia blamed No­lasco’s trou­bles on an in­con­sis­tent re­lease point.

“He’s missed a lot of spots,” Scios­cia said. “Those misses where he’s try­ing to go away and leav­ing it over the heart of the plate, guys have had pretty good swings at those.”

Mean­while, the An­gels could do lit­tle with Matt Strahm. If that’s an un­fa­mil­iar name, that is un­der­stand­able.

Strahm is a 25-year-old lefthander who was mak­ing the first start of his ca­reer af­ter 41 relief ap­pear­ances. He looked like a vet­eran starter against the An­gels.

Strahm (2-3) went five in­nings, giv­ing up one run on three hits and walk­ing one. He struck out three and ben­e­fited from a seem­ing Danny Espinoza solo homer be­ing over­turned from a video re­view in the fifth. The ball was foul.

A 21st-round draft pick by the Roy­als in 2012, Strahm threw a ca­reer-high 68 pitches. The only run the An­gels scored against him came in the first on a bloop sin­gle by Al­bert Pu­jols.

But No­lasco gave up RBI dou­bles to Alex Gor­don and Whit Mer­ri­field in the sec­ond and the An­gels never led again.

Af­ter all the ex­cite­ment in their come­back vic­tory against the New York Yan­kees on Wed­nes­day, the An­gels went rock-a-bye quiet Thurs­day. A reg­u­lar New York hang­over.

The of­fense stalling, No­lasco gave up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain in the third and an­other to Gor­don in the fourth.

“I was try­ing to find a way to grind it and get it to that seventh in­ning,” No­lasco said. “Just keep grind­ing. That’s all you can do.”

When he gave up a lead­off sin­gle to Cain in the seventh, he was fin­ished. Re­liever Jose Al­varez did not help the cause, giv­ing up four hits in the in­ning and al­low­ing three more runs to score.

“[No­lasco] was be­hind a lot of hit­ters,” Scios­cia said. “They were on a lot. They had a lot of traf­fic out there. He bat­tled to get through six but he’s just not quite where he needs to be.”

Yunel Es­co­bar sin­gled in a sixth-in­ning run, and the An­gels’ of­fense was fin­ished.

The Roy­als fin­ished with 15 hits. Seven went for ex­tra bases.

Sean M. Haf­fey Getty Im­ages

AL­BERT PU­JOLS, who drove in a run with a bloop sin­gle in the first in­ning, shows his frus­tra­tion af­ter lin­ing out in the third.

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