By HAL McCOY
The Ricky Nolasco who was 0-and-4 in five starts since the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim acquired him at the trade deadline from the Minnesota Twins?
The Ricky Nolasco who entered Wednesday night’s game with a 4-and-12 record and a 5.24 earned run average.
Yeah, THAT Ricky Nolasco.
ON WEDNESDAY NIGH IN ANGEL of Anaheim Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds he came disguised as Jake Arrieta, Max Scherezer, Chris Sale and Justin Verlander combined.
Nolasco, who hadn’t pitched a complete game since 2012, not only pitched a complete game, he pitched a complete game four-hit shutout and won, 3-0.
The 6-2, 235-pound right hander from Rialto, Calif., retired the last 12 Reds in a row and 16 of the last 17 while walking none and striking out seven.
THIS STORY SHOULD HAVE BEEN about Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, but it seldom is even when he pitches well because he so often doesn’t get run support.
On this night he pitched seven innings and gave up two runs and five hits. Finnegan leads the league in walks (72) and didn’t give up any. Finnegan leads the league in home runs given up (27) and didn’t give up any.
And he struck out nine.
But because he gave up two runs in the sixth inning and because his teammates couldn’t figure out Nolasco, he lost.
In his previous start in Arizona, Finnegan gave up two runs and three hits and struck out 12 in six innings and got nothing more than a few pats on the posterior from his teammates. The Reds lost, 4-3, in the 11th inning on a Blake Wood wild pitch.
WITH ONE OUT IN THE SIXTH on Wednesday he gave up a double to left center to Andrelton Simmons. With two outs he gave up a run-scoring single to C.J. Cron and a run-scoring double to right to Jefry Marte for a 2-0 Angels lead.
The Angels scored their third in the eighth off Raisel Iglesias, a one-out double to Nick Buss and a two-out run-scoring single to Cron.
Cron drove in two of his team’s three runs and drove in seven during the three-game sweep, including three home runs.
The Reds limp home after a 1-and-5 trip against two last place teams — 1-and-2 against Arizona (National League West) and 0-and-3 against the Angels (American League West). After winning in Arizona, 13-0, in game two on the trip, they’ve lost four straight and scored six runs in four games over 36 innings. And they’ve lost eight of their last 10.
THE REDS ONLY LEGITIMATE chance to score was in the sixth when Ramon Cabrera led with a double. He had two of the Reds four hits and the other was an infield hit.
Billy Hamilton bunted him to third, Hamilton’s league-leading 11th sacrifice bunt, but Zack Cozart grounde to third and Joey Votto lined out hard to second base.
Votto singled in the first inning and there was drama of a different kind in the ninth inning. Votto came to bat with two outs and nobody on, needing a hit to finish August with a .400 batting average. He hit .413 in July and was trying to become the first Reds hitter to hit .400 in back-to-back months.
Nolasco pumped two quick strikes past Votto on hard-breaking pitches and both Votto and the Reds were denied when Votto flied meekly to left field.