A humid day ended Ricky Nolasco’s outing a batter earlier than he would have liked. He still did enough to help the Los Angeles Angels stymie the Washington Nationals.
Nolasco bounced back from a rocky first inning to pitch into the sixth inning Wednesday before departing with cramps, and Luis Valbuena and Kole Calhoun homered in the Angels’ 3-2 victory that secured a split of the teams’ two-game series. Los Angeles won for the seventh time in eight games.
Nolasco (6-12) pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs while striking out five. He improved to 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five interleague starts.
“He gutted it out and gave us a chance,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Tanner Roark (9-8) allowed four hits in seven innings for Washington, but he was done in by the two home runs.
“Trying to move down and away, two-seamers on both of them and just didn’t get down enough and just stayed up enough in the zone,” Roark said.
Valbuena hit his 13th homer of the season to center to lead off the fifth, and Calhoun followed Mike Trout’s two-out infield single in the sixth with a shot into the second deck in right field. It was Calhoun’s 14th homer of the year.
Reliever Cam Bedrosian survived a leadoff walk to Michael Taylor, who advanced on both a sacrifice and a groundout. Bedrosian then retired Howie Kendrick to earn his sixth save in eight tries.
“Kole got ahold of a fastball and didn’t miss it,” Scioscia said. “Big hit, and our bullpen again did a great job to hold the lead.”
Nolasco threw 31 of his 112 pitches in the first inning, but he escaped trouble in the third and fourth.
Nationals shortstop Wilmer Difo extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single, then scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s two-out shot to left. It was Zimmerman’s 28th homer of the season.
It was the only damage Washington managed against Nolasco, who retired the first two hitters of the sixth before cramping in his calves led Scioscia to make a pitching change. Jesse Chavez struck out Jose Lobaton to end the inning.
“It was a hot one today, really, really hot,” Nolasco said. “That last inning everything was just sort of shutting down. I wanted to finish that guy there, but I understand the situation we’re in.”
Washington finished 6-3 on its 10-day homestand and will play 14 of its next 21 on the road.
“It went well, but you tend to remember your last game — 7-2 sounds better than 6-3, but we’ll take 6-3,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said.