ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) –– Garrett Richards pitched six innings of four-hit ball, David Freese drove in two runs, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 7-3 on Friday night for their seventh win in eight home games.
Josh Hamilton and Erick Aybar had RBI singles in the fifth inning as the Angels opened a six-game homestand with just their fourth win over the AL West-rival Rangers in their last 18 meetings.
C.J. Cron homered in the third, and Hamilton and Howie Kendrick scored on Brad Snyder’s throwing error in the fourth inning as the Angels built a 7-1 lead against Joe Saunders, who remained winless in six starts for Texas.
Michael Choice homered and Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 10 games for the Rangers, who have lost three straight.
Richards (7-2) needed 119 pitches, but still struck out seven and didn’t allow an extra-base hit while shutting down another opponent in his breakthrough season. He has yielded just two earned runs in 27 innings over his last four starts after giving up only Andrus’ third-inning RBI single to Texas.
Saunders (0-3) gave up 10 hits and three walks, losing for the fourth time in five starts against his former team. The left-hander began his major league career in Anaheim and spent parts of six seasons with the club.
Mike Trout went 0 for 3 with a walk, snapping his 13-game hit streak, the second-longest of his career.
Richards’ latest outstanding start and a balanced offensive effort erased Los Angeles’ memories of Nick Swisher’s game-ending grand slam in Cleveland on Thursday. The Angels lost four of six on their road trip after a prolonged stretch of outstanding play.
Leonys Martin walked, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Andrus’ single in the third. Cron replied later in the inning with his fourth homer of the season, an impressive shot into the elevated right-field stands.
Hamilton walked and advanced on Kendrick’s double in the fourth, and both runners scored when Snyder fielded Aybar’s grounder and threw it past catcher Robinson Chirinos to the backstop.
Freese then showed signs of emerging from his season-long slump with an RBI single, just the second run-scoring hit in 77 at-bats since May 25 for the longtime St. Louis third baseman.
Trout and Albert Pujols walked and scored on singles in the fifth, and Freese drove in Hamilton moments later to chase Saunders.
NOTES: Los Angeles recalled versatile INF Grant Green from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game, and he replaced Pujols in the sixth inning for his first major league appearance at first base. Green batted .359 in 22 games with the Angels earlier this season, but was sent down for a lack of playing time. … Trout struck out looking in his first two at-bats, leading to an animated conversation with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Trout leads the Angels with 73 strikeouts. … The Angels are 11-4 in Richards’ starts this season and 28-29 in other pitchers’ starts. … Ben Rowen, the Rangers’ submarining right-handed reliever, pitched 3 1-3 innings of one-hit relief in his third major league appearance. He is from nearby Rancho Palos Verdes.