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MIA@CIN: Eovaldi dominates the Reds over eight frames

Nathan Eovaldi remains one of the hardest throwers in the game, repeatedly bringing his fastball in at 95 mph and over.

What's plagued the right-hander lately has been inconsistent offspeed pitches. And he's been prone to the big inning. In his last start, for instance, the Marlins righty was tagged for five runs in the first two innings in a loss to the Rangers. All the damage came on two-out RBI hits.

"It's really just off-speed pitches," said Eovaldi, who will face a tough test on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game series at Angel Stadium.

In that loss, Eovaldi also was victimized by poorly located fastballs.

"I was leaving the fastball up in the zone," he said. "I couldn't get that slider, the really good one with bite to it."

Eovaldi has struggled since the All-Star break, posting a 1-4 record with a 5.31 ERA in seven starts. His 25 earned runs allowed in that span are the most among Marlins starting pitchers.

Left-handed hitters also are giving Eovaldi trouble. For the season, lefties are hitting .302 with nine homers and 45 RBIs. Right-handed hitters are batting .217 with two homers and 27 RBIs.

"I have to keep those few bad innings to a minimum," Eovaldi said. "It's just been a struggle the whole season."

The Angels, meanwhile, are once again deadlocked with the A's for first place atop the American League West.

They will go with right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who no-hit the Red Sox for 6 2/3 innings last Thursday before Will Middlebrooks doubled. Shoemaker ended up tossing 7 2/3 scoreless frames, striking out nine and walking one to earn the win. Over his last six games (five starts), he is 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 30 strikeouts, compared to just four walks.

Despite Monday's 7-1 series-opening loss -- which followed a series loss in Oakland -- the Angels have been red-hot. Still, manager Mike Scioscia thinks they can be even better -- even without injured righty Garrett Richards.

"I think our club is still a work in progress," Scioscia said Monday. "I think we're playing at a good level, but I don't think this club has topped out yet, and I think that we've had some injuries that, hopefully, we'll be able to absorb them and still finish strong.

"For the most part, I think we've seen this team get better as the summer's gone on. I think there's upside in it, but with the focus on maintaining what we have."

Marlins: Looking to get Reed Johnson going
A downside to having such a productive outfield is it creates limited playing opportunities for those on the bench.

The Marlins find themselves in that situation. Their outfield is set with Christian Yelich in left, Marcell Ozuna in center and Giancarlo Stanton in right. The three rarely come off the field. That's placed veteran Reed Johnson in a tough spot, because it dramatically reduces his at-bats.

Manager Mike Redmond sees the series with the Angels as a perfect opportunity to get Johnson some playing time as the designated hitter. Heading into Monday night, Johnson had just 14 at-bats in the month of August, and was hitless in all of them.

"We need to get him some at-bats," Redmond said before the game. "He hasn't gotten a ton of at-bats just because our outfield has played so well."

Johnson responded by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Angels: Thatcher tests ankle
Sidelined left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher threw off a mound for the first time Saturday as a "test" for his injured left ankle.

Thatcher said Monday the ankle was "still bothering me a little bit," but added that he was still on schedule. When Thatcher sprained his ankle vs. the Rays in St. Petersburg on Aug. 2, the prognosis was that he would miss four to six weeks.

Thatcher set a personal goal to be back by this past weekend's series at Oakland, and now he's now hoping to return to face the A's this weekend in Anaheim.

Scioscia, meanwhile, doesn't expect Thatcher to return until after Monday, when rosters can expand.

Worth noting
• With Monday's three-run homer, Stanton became the 10th-youngest player to reach 150 career home runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two active players were younger than Stanton to reach the 150-homer mark -- Albert Pujols (24, 212 days) and Alex Rodriguez (24, 255).

• The Angels were not in first place in the AL West this season until Aug. 16, which is the longest they have gone in a season before reaching the top of the division for the first time. Comments