Mike Trout hit a three-run homer, Albert Pujols followed with No. 509 of his career and Garrett Richards allowed two hits in eight innings to lead the Los Angeles Angels past the Chicago White Sox 8-4 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader sweep.
In the nightcap, Kole Calhoun homered and scored twice as the Angels held on for a 7-5 victory to move within 3½ games of first-place Oakland in the AL West.
"I think our guys on the offensive side have proven that they’re going to pressure teams and get us runs," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Our challenge is going to be able to hold leads and we were able to do it today in two games."
In the opener, Richards (9-2) gave up an early three-run homer to the major-league leader Jose Abreu and then dominated the rest of the way.
"I think I was the same pitcher from beginning to end," Richards said. "I wasn’t going to let three runs in the first ruin my day. I think that’s a maturing process that I’ve gone through as a pitcher and I’m happy with the direction I’m moving in."
Trout hit a three-run homer, Pujols followed with No. 509 of his career and Josh Hamilton also went deep for Los Angeles, his first since June 3.
Trout’s shot off starter Hector Noesi (2-6) evened the score at 3 in the fifth. Pujols put the Angels ahead with his 17th of the season, tying Gary Sheffield for 24th place on the career chart.
Richards improved to 5-0 since May 30.
"(Richards) was great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said as Chicago had its three-game winning streak snapped. "We got him early when Jose (homered) in the first inning, but after that, we didn’t get many good swings against him. He had good stuff. That’s the part that stings — we actually got three runs off the guy on only two hits, but we couldn’t make them hold up."
Angels newcomer Rich Hill loaded the bases with none out in the ninth, but the White Sox scored only once as Joe Smith earned his eighth save.
Richards struck out nine, walked two and matched his longest outing of the season. He went 4-0 in June with a franchise-record 1.05 ERA.
"He’s been good all year," Scioscia said. "He’s had really one tough start at Oakland where he didn’t get out of the first inning. Outside of that, I think you’re seeing power stuff. He’s getting into the zone with good movement."
Noesi didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when Chris Cowgill beat out an infield single. Trout went deep on a 2-2 pitch with one out, scoring Chris Iannetta and Cowgill to tie it 3-all.
Pujols followed with a drive to center field.
Noesi was pulled with none out in the sixth and charged with five earned runs and three hits. He walked seven and struck out seven.
Ronald Belisario gave up an RBI single to Iannetta that scored Howie Kendrick for a 5-3 Angels lead. Hamilton’s solo shot to center made it 6-3 with two outs in the seventh.
Iannetta’s RBI single with one out in the eighth scored pinch-runner John McDonald. Pujols scored in the ninth on a fielder’s choice to make it 8-3.
There was a 30-minute break between games of the single-admission doubleheader, quickly arranged following Monday’s rainout.
In the nightcap, Jered Weaver (9-6) worked 5 2/3 innings for the win, allowing nine hits while striking out six. Chicago starter Scott Carroll (2-5) took the loss after pitching six-plus innings and giving up seven runs and 10 hits.
The Angels manufactured three second-inning runs on four consecutive singles and a fielder’s choice, including RBI credited to Kendrick, C.J. Cron and Grant Green.
The White Sox got two back with Conor Gillaspie‘s first home run of the season, a two-run shot that drove in Alexei Ramirez with no outs.
In the fifth, Calhoun stroked Carroll’s 1-0 pitch into the right-field bullpen, scoring Green for a 5-2 lead. Kendrick scored on Hank Conger’s sixth-inning single for a 6-2 lead.
The White Sox added three runs in the sixth as Gillaspie’s RBI single scored Ramirez, while Dayan Viciedo’s homer with one out brought home Gillaspie, cutting the deficit to 6-5.
In the seventh, Carroll left with two runners on and no outs. White Sox reliever Jake Petricka walked two batters, forcing in Calhoun for a 7-5 Angels lead.
"We kept putting the pressure on," said Angels closer Smith, who earned saves in both games. "After you win that first game of a doubleheader, it’s really hard to win two. … (But) you put those runs right up on them early, that was huge for us."
Ventura said left-hander Chris Sale (7-1, 2.30 ERA) is a worthy All-Star candidate despite spending a month on the disabled list. "You’re looking at a guy at the top of his game," Ventura said. "His numbers prove it." … Abreu became the first player in MLB history with 26 home runs in his first 70 games. He also extended his hitting streak to 16 games, matching Ross Gload’s record 16-game run in 2004. … Pujols was in the lineup despite a swollen lymph gland near his right groin. "It shouldn’t be anything that’s going to impact what he needs to do," Scioscia said. … The Angels acquired Hill from Boston for cash earlier in the day. The left-hander had a 3.23 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket.