ANAHEIM — On the first day Mike Trout was back in the Angels’ lineup in nearly two months, not much changed.
The Angels’ offense came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. The defense didn’t help, as rookie first baseman Nolan Schanuel made an error that led to three unearned runs.
“He feels awful for what happened,” Manager Phil Nevin said of Schanuel. “We’re not putting this on him. We had chances to score. The three home runs were good. But only three other hits besides that. Really scattered around. There was no traffic. We didn’t put any pressure on their defense, nor their pitcher. So to me, that’s what it came down to.”
The Angels had hoped for a little better offense with Trout back in the lineup.
Trout, who had missed seven weeks with a fractured hamate bone, was 1 for 4 with an infield hit in his return. He struck out and hit into a double play as the Angels (61-65) returned from back-to-back days off created by Tropical Storm Hilary with their 14th loss in 19 games.
The Angels didn’t manage much offense at all against Reds rookie right-hander Graham Ashcraft, who brought a 4.89 ERA into the game. Their only runs were on solo homers from Brandon Drury, Mike Moustakas and Logan O’Hoppe. They struck out 10 times against him.
After O’Hoppe’s homer in the fourth inning gave the Angels a 3-1 lead, they didn’t have another hit until Trout’s single in the eighth.
Angels starter Lucas Giolito gave up four runs in six innings, but only one of the runs was earned. He struck out nine and walked two.
Giolito gave up a homer in the first inning to Matt McClain, a product of Beckman High and UCLA, but then he settled down. Giolito allowed just an infield hit over the next three innings, and he was about to get out of the fifth when his defense betrayed him.
The inning began with a leadoff walk to No. 8 hitter Will Benson. After a strikeout, T.J. Friedl hit a line drive into right field. Hunter Renfroe gambled by diving for it instead of playing it on a hop, and the ball got past him for a double.
Giolito responded with a strikeout and he got Elly De La Cruz to hit a routine bouncer to first baseman Schanuel, who had the ball tick off the end of his glove and bounce away.
Both runners scored on the error by Schanuel, who reached the major leagues on Friday just 40 days after the Angels picked him in the draft.
After the game, Schanuel sat quietly at his locker as several teammates came by to give him some words of encouragement.
“I know that sometimes people want to point the finger at the error,” Giolito said. “But there’s a lot of things I could have done better to even avoid that situation altogether. Four-pitch leadoff walk kind of put us in a tough situation to start the inning.”
Spencer Steer, a Long Beach Millikan High product, followed with a double down the left field line, putting the Reds ahead 4-3 with the third unearned run in the inning. De La Cruz scored from first on the play.
Giolito said he regretted the “hanging slider” to Steer on the go-ahead hit.
“I like to take pride in stranding runners and trying to pick up teammates but unfortunately didn’t get the job done there,” Giolito said.
Giolito tacked on a scoreless inning in the sixth.
Giolito has a 6.67 ERA in five games since the Angels acquired him from the Chicago White Sox on July 26, a deal that stood as a statement that the Angels would be buyers before the trade deadline.
Although this was another loss, it was nonetheless his best outing.
“He threw the ball great,” Nevin said. “Efficient with his pitches. He gives up the homer in the first and you know you can go sideways from there, but you can just see a different demeanor in him today. Kind of a bulldog mentality. For most of that game we’re thinking he’s gonna get deep here, with a doubleheader tomorrow it’s gonna help us with the ’pen. Just didn’t work out that way.”
Tuesday’s game became the series opener after Monday’s game was postponed due to the aftereffects of the storm, which left the field too wet to play. The teams will play a doubleheader on Wednesday.