ANAHEIM, Calif. | Carlos Gonzalez can’t wait for September and the thrill of a tight playoff race.
He hit a two-run homer in the first inning and the Colorado Rockies beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Tuesday night to split their series.
The Rockies moved into a tie with Arizona atop the NL West standings after the Diamondbacks lost to the Giants.
“It’s going to be fun,” Gonzalez said. “It’s going to be a big month ahead of us and every team in this division. We’re going to face each other a lot and it’s going to be a long stretch facing division rivals. We’re excited and ready for the challenge.”
Kyle Freeland (12-7) allowed one run and five hits in six innings. The left-hander struck out six and walked two in his first career start against the Angels.
“It’s definitely nice when your team puts runs on the board early for you,” Freeland said. “You don’t have to be on the gas pedal from the get-go. You can make sure your mechanics are correct as you get everything going.”
Wade Davis struck out the side in the ninth to earn his NL-leading 36th save, extending his career high.
The Rockies added a run in the seventh on Ian Desmond’s sacrifice fly that scored Trevor Story, who singled and stole second.
The Angels trailed 2-1 in the fifth after David Fletcher’s two-out RBI single. Fletcher went 3 for 4 with a strikeout.
Albert Pujols followed with a sacrifice fly that Blackmon snagged near the wall, scoring Fletcher, who singled, moved up on Mike Trout’s sharp flyout and took third on Scott Oberg’s wild pitch.
Freeland got a called third strike on Trout in the fifth with a runner on base.
“I held him inside and threw a fastball when he might have been looking for something off-speed,” Freeland said.
The Angels stranded a runner in each of the first six innings. They have lost nine of 10.
Noe Ramirez (4-5) became the first player in Angels’ history to earn a save one day and start the next day’s game. But he didn’t last long. The right-hander threw 22 pitches in the first, giving up Gonzalez’s homer, before getting yanked.
“I was upset at myself for throwing that slider,” Ramirez said. “That’s not really my bread and butter against lefties.”
It was Ramirez’s first major-league save and start. He struck out two and walked none.
“I just couldn’t execute a couple pitches early on,” he said. “You got to get locked in immediately.”
Angels: Shohei Ohtani (sprained elbow ligament) will throw a bullpen session in the next couple days. His “stuff looked great” in a simulated game on Monday, according to manager Mike Scioscia, but the training staff needs to evaluate the two-way star before he’s cleared to pitch in games. Ohtani wasn’t in the lineup against the Rockies’ left-handed starter, but he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. … OF Justin Upton (left index finger laceration) returns on Thursday. The four stitches he received after handling a broken wine glass at home have yet to be removed. … RHP Matt Shoemaker begins a rehab assignment at Class A Inland Empire on Wednesday.
The Angels have just one win at home since Aug. 10 against Oakland, and only three wins this month against a team that is .500 or better.
Ramirez became the 15th different starter for the Angels this season, second only to Tampa Bay with 16. Before his start, Ramirez had only allowed one homer in his last 11 relief appearances.
Rockies: Off Wednesday before LHP Eric Lauer (5-7, 5.30 ERA) comes off the disabled list to start Thursday in the opener of a four-game series at San Diego.
Angels: After an off-day, they open a four-game series at AL West-leading Houston on Thursday. LHP Andrew Heaney (7-8, 4.25) starts.