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Richards has 11Ks, Angels top Astros 6-1

  • Article by: JOE RESNICK
  • Associated Press
  • July 6, 2014 - 6:10 PM

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Garrett Richards won his sixth decision in seven starts and had a career-high 11 strikeouts Sunday, leading the surging Angels to a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros and completing a four-game sweep that extended Los Angeles' home winning streak to 10 games.

Albert Pujols drove in the Angels' first two runs with a bases-loaded single and Kole Calhoun homered, helping them go 15 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2012 season at 89-73. The Halos swept a four-game set at home for the first time since July 2011 against Seattle and are 21-3 at the "Big A" since May 17 — their best 24-game stretch at home in franchise history.

Richards (10-2) allowed six hits over 7 1-3 innings, including an RBI single by Carlos Corporan in the seventh. The right-hander has a 1.45 ERA in his last seven outings and has allowed no more than four hits in six of them.

Richards' strikeout total was the highest by an Angels pitcher since June 18 last season, when Joe Blanton fanned 11 in a no-decision against Seattle at Anaheim.

Joe Thatcher, obtained in a trade from Arizona on Saturday, threw one pitch in his Angels debut and gave up a one-out single in the eighth by Jason Castro. But Mike Morin finished the inning with a diving catch of Jon Singleton's popup after first baseman C. J. Cron collided with catcher Hank Conger to the right of the mound, knocking the ball out of Conger's mitt.

Collin McHugh (4-8) gave up three runs — two earned — and four hits through four innings before leaving with a broken nail on his middle finger. The rookie right-hander walked two and struck out four in his third start against the Angels this year, becoming the first pitcher in Astros history to get at least four strikeouts in each of his first 14 starts of a season.

The Angels loaded the bases in the third when McHugh gave up singles by Conger and Calhoun, and hit Mike Trout on the left biceps with a first-pitch fastball. Pujols stroked a two-run single to left field to open the scoring.

Until that hit, the three-time NL MVP was 0 for 13 this season in bases-loaded situations. Trout then scored from second on a throwing error by second baseman Jose Altuve, who was trying to complete a double play on Josh Hamilton's grounder to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.

Calhoun added his ninth homer in the seventh against David Martinez, who was pitching his third inning after getting recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Angels tacked on two more runs in the eighth against Chad Qualls.

NOTES: Pujols' two RBIs raised his career total to 1,555, tying Willie McCovey for 41st place all-time. ... Hamilton was 2 for 15 with no RBIs and eight strikeouts in the series, after going 29 for 89 with nine homers and 17 RBIs in his previous 25 games against the Astros since the start of last season. ... Altuve, who began the day leading Texas' Adrian Beltre by three percentage points in the AL batting race, got his league-leading 122nd hit and needs two more in the Astros' next six games to break Bob Watson's 1973 franchise record for hits before the All-Star break. ... Astros rookie RF George Springer struck out all four times up, increasing his AL-worst total to 105. ... Altuve stole his 25th consecutive base in the sixth inning, the longest streak by an Astro since 2004, when Carlos Beltran swiped 28 in a row.

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