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Figgins' return doesn't spark Angels

He gets on base three times, but Braves do much more damage against Garland in a 5-2 victory.

June 14, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

Chone Figgins' return was supposed to be the antidote for the Angels' anemic offense.

At least that's what the numbers said. Because in the 33 games Figgins played before his most recent trip to the disabled list, the Angels averaged 5.3 runs, two full runs a game more than they've scored without him.

So with Figgins back at the top of the lineup Friday against the team with the worst road record in baseball, the Angels seemed primed to break out, right?

Well, not so much. Unfortunately the rest of the lineup had to bat too, and once again that proved to be the Angels' downfall in a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Figgins reached base in each of his first three plate appearances -- a single and two walks. But twice he was erased on force plays and the third time he was caught stealing.

"That's a good start for him, sure," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's what makes him important to our offense. [But] when he got on, we couldn't carry some things over."

They haven't done it much at all in the last six weeks, with the Angels scoring five or more runs in four of their last 37 games.

"It's more than Figgy," Scioscia said. "We need the continuity. We need that deep lineup to appear."

Instead the Angels' lineup disappeared once again, making Braves Jo-Jo Reyes look like Johan Santana in a brilliant eight-inning effort in which he gave up one hit after the third inning.

"He was aggressive," said Maicer Izturis, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning single. "He was using his fastball, his changeup."

But if the Angels couldn't get anyone on, Angels starter Jon Garland couldn't keep the Braves off base. He got them in order in the first but retired consecutive batters in the same inning only two other times, matching a season high by giving up 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Despite that, Garland (6-4) almost wiggled off the hook with three of the five runs he gave up scoring with two out.

"I felt good, was throwing strikes," said Garland, who lost for the first time since April. "If I go out and throw the same exact pitch in the same exact count, they wouldn't get that many hits. It seemed like they hit some seeing-eye [hits] in the infield. A couple of fly balls to right-center didn't seem like they were hit too well. But it happens. It rolled their way this time."

Center fielder Gregor Blanco, dropped to last in the Braves' order when a batting practice injury sidelined Chipper Jones, drove in three of those runs with an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run single in the sixth. He finished with three hits, one of six Braves to collect multiple hits, while outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Brandon Jones each scored twice.

The Angels' offense wasn't nearly as dynamic as Atlanta's, managing to score only on Torii Hunter's leadoff home run in the second and on a two-out RBI double by Howie Kendrick in the third that gave them a short-lived 2-1 lead.

Twice the Angels got two hits in an inning but didn't score -- the final time in the ninth inning when Izturis was erased trying to steal after slowing to a walk on his way to second, thinking a full-count pitch to Kendrick had been called a ball.

"Tomorrow's another day," said Izturis, who added that the Angels are a different team now that Figgins is back.

"He brings a different look to our offense," he said. "He's a natural leadoff hitter."

The other eight hitters will have to help too.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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