ATLANTA (AP) — Hector Santiago is still looking for his first win with his new team.
Santiago allowed only two hits through five scoreless innings before blowing a three-run lead in the sixth, and the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Atlanta Braves 7-3 on Sunday night.
Santiago (0-7) allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander, who was acquired from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December, struck out four and walked two.
“Hector, really, for five innings was really on top of things,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Things unraveled a bit but I still think Hector pitched a really strong ballgame.”
With one out in the sixth, Santiago walked B.J. Upton. The Braves then scored four runs on five consecutive hits that left Santiago feeling as if he was battling more than the Atlanta hitters.
“Luck turned their way,” Santiago said. “I feel like the better pitch I made the luckier they got. I made some really good pitches right there. I can’t do anything about that.
“It was just one of those tough innings where nothing fell in place for us.”
Atlanta rookie Tommy La Stella drove in two runs with a double. Evan Gattis and Justin Upton also had run-scoring hits.
“They hit it right where we could reach it but just enough to tease us where we thought we had a play and then we couldn’t make it,” Santiago said. “It was definitely a tough inning right there. But I still feel like I threw the ball well there in that inning.”
Mike Trout had three hits for Los Angeles, including a homer. Erick Aybar also homered before leaving with a sore left hip.
Scioscia said he hopes Aybar can play on Monday. He said Aybar first hurt his hip in Saturday night’s game.
La Stella went 3 for 3 with a walk. He is hitting .411 with at least two hits in nine of his 16 games.
“I think La Stella thinks there’s another league, the way he carries himself,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that he feels this comfortable right away.”
Jason Heyward homered in the seventh and made two strong defensive plays in right field to take hits away from Trout.
Anthony Vavaro (2-1) had three strikeouts in two perfect innings for the win.
The Braves moved back into first place in the NL East by taking two of three from the Angels, who remain in second in the AL West.
David Carpenter gave up a single to Trout before hitting Albert Pujols with a pitch with one out in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel struck out Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick for his 20th save.
Atlanta’s Mike Minor matched his career high by allowing 11 hits for the second straight game. He gave up three runs in five innings.
Aybar hit his fifth homer leading off the second. He reached on a fielder’s choice grounder in the third before being removed from the game in the bottom of the inning. John McDonald took over at shortstop.
Trout raced in to make a tumbling catch of B.J. Upton’s sinking liner to end the third inning.
Heyward took a hit away from Trout with a similar catch in the fourth. Heyward again denied Trout of a hit in the sixth. Sprinting toward the wall, Heyward jumped and reached up at the warning track to catch a long fly ball before running into the wall.
“If Jason doesn’t make those plays, we might lose the game,” Gonzalez said.
Heyward hit his eighth homer off Cam Bedrosian. B.J. Upton singled, stole second and scored from third on Bedrosian’s wild pitch.
NOTES: The Angels placed RHP Fernando Salas on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Salas pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win in Saturday night’s 11-6 victory over the Braves in 13 innings. RHP Dane De La Rosa was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake and pitched the eighth. … Trout had seven hits, including two homers, and drove in five runs in the three-game series. … The Braves open a three-game home series against Philadelphia on Monday night when RHP Julio Teheran faces Phillies LHP Cole Hamels. The Angels open a four-game series at Cleveland with RHP Jered Weaver matched against Indians RHP Trevor Bauer.