ATLANTA (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels have been struggling for most of the last two months, and Reid Detmers credits his teammates with staying the course and not getting too frustrated.
“We’ve had a couple of rough patches obviously, but everyone in here treats it like another day,” Detmers said. “There’s nothing crazy about it. We don’t think about it. We go out and play. We don’t think about that stuff.”
Taylor Ward homered in a five-run first, Detmers pitched five scoreless innings and the Angels cooled off the Atlanta Braves with a 9-1 victory Sunday.
Max Stassi went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs, and Ward had three hits for the Angels, who improved to 3-14 this month and snapped a five-game skid. They had dropped 14 of 16 and were a season-worst 16 games under .500.
The defending World Series champion Braves had won 14 of 19 and were 35-11 since June 1, the best record in the majors during that span.
Atlanta, which began the day a half-game behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East, was a season-worst 10 1/2 games out on June 1. The Braves are trying to erase their biggest deficit to win a division title since the division era began in 1969. The 1993 team set the franchise record at 10 games back before winning the NL West.
Braves manager Brian Snitker was still pleased that his team won the three-game series even though starter Ian Anderson struggled badly Sunday.
“Command wasn’t great,” Snitker said. “He started searching. It’s hard. That’s a tough place to be in as a pitcher. You’re trying your damnedest but no matter what you do it doesn’t work.”
Los Angeles entered hitting .185 with only 39 runs in July, both last in the majors, but batted around to take a 5-0 lead in the first. Ward’s 13th homer barely cleared the wall in left-center before Jared Walsh and Luis Rengifo singled, and Stassi and Jo Adell each had an RBI single. Phil Gosselin followed with a walk, Brandon Walsh an RBI infield single and Andrew Velazquez an RBI single.
“Huge. It’s a confidence booster,” Detmers said. “Once we scored those five, we scored runs the whole game. It just kind of loosened everyone up and kept us going.”
The Angels tacked on three more in the fourth to go up 8-0. Shohei Ohtani walked, advanced to third on Ward’s hard single that chased Anderson and scored on Rengifo’s single. Ward scored from first on the same play as right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. made a throwing error to third. Rengifo scored on Stassi’s sacrifice fly.
Detmers (3-3) allowed three hits with two walks and six strikeouts, throwing 52 of 90 pitches for strikes. The lefty improved to 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts this month.
Detmers retired seven in a row and nine of 10 after striking out Acuña to end the third. His only blemish was a walk to Matt Olson in the first before Dansby Swanson scratched out the first Braves hit with a single leading off the fourth. Detmers got Orlando Arcia to ground out to strand the bases loaded in the inning.
That was the only major threat he faced.
Stassi, a catcher, believes Detmers has rediscovered the formula that helped him throw a no-hitter two months ago. All it took was a trip back to the minor leagues to tweak a few things.
“Awesome. This was his third start since he went down,” Stassi said. “He got back to some stuff he was doing in the past. You’d rather take that than a sweep, right? Happy with the win.”
Anderson (8-6) was 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in three starts this month but he looked more like the pitcher whose 6.91 ERA in June was the highest in the NL last month. The right-hander gave up seven runs and eight hits in three-plus innings.
“It’s been tough all season honestly,” Anderson said. “Just not performing the way I want to. It’s probably the worst stretch of baseball that I’ve had in my life. It’s been frustrating, but the team is playing good baseball. It’s still fun to be around and be a part of it.”
Acuña’s RBI single in the seventh put Atlanta on the board. Stassi’s RBI triple in the eighth made it 9-1.
Angels: Ward left the game for a pinch-runner after hitting a single in the eighth. Interim manager Phil Nevin said Ward had a leg cramp and was fine.
Braves: LF Adam Duvall could be facing season-ending surgery on his left wrist after hitting the outfield wall Saturday. Duvall, the NL leader in RBIs last season and a Gold Glove winner, was placed on the injured list before the game. Manager Brian Snitker didn’t know the extent of Duvall’s injury after Sunday’s game. 1B Mike Ford was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Angels designated INF Jonathan Villar for assignment after he went 0 for 4 and committed two errors Saturday. OF Magneuris Sierra had his contract selected from Triple-A Salt Lake.
There were plenty of empty seats, but the Braves announced their 27th sellout this season and the highest attended three-game series, 128,357, since Truist Park opened in 2017.
Angels: RHP Noah Syndergaard (5-7, 4.00 ERA) will face Zack Greinke (3-6, 4.64) when Los Angeles opens a three-game series at Kansas City on Monday.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (10-3, 2.64 ERA) faces Ranger Suárez (7-4, 4.07) when Atlanta begins a three-game series at Philadelphia on Monday.
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