ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Garrett Richards felt he was getting squeezed on balls and strikes, and he saw nothing special about his stuff.
He still led the Los Angeles Angels to yet another victory in his breakout season.
Richards pitched four-hit ball into the eighth inning to win his fourth straight decision, Kole Calhoun had a two-run double and the Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 Wednesday night for their fifth straight win.
Richards (8-2) surrendered his third homer of the year, but recovered for his fourth victory in a dominant June. He issued five walks in his 100th big league appearance, but the right-hander stranded two Twins in the third and again in the seventh.
”I did a lot of things I wasn’t happy with, but I kept us in the game,” Richards said. ”I felt like I was getting squeezed a little bit, but that stuff is going to happen. You’ve got to move on.”
Richards moved on splendidly to another impressive start that left him with a 1.06 ERA in June. He has yielded just four runs and 20 hits in 34 1-3 innings over his last five starts.
”He’s got pretty good stuff,” Twins catcher Eric Fryer said. ”It’s a pretty easy 96, 97 (mph) coming out of his hand and a sharp breaking ball, and it seemed like he was throwing that for strikes a little bit more often than what we’ve seen on the video.”
Minnesota got two more runners on with one out in the eighth to chase Richards, and Kevin Jepsen yielded Kendrys Morales’ RBI single before Albert Pujols alertly snagged Eduardo Escobar’s high-bouncing grounder to end the inning.
Howie Kendrick had an RBI single, and Erick Aybar got two hits and stole two bases as Los Angeles won for the 14th time in 16 games at Angel Stadium, moving to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 43-33. The Angels are unbeaten on their homestand, matching their longest winning streak of the year.
Manager Mike Scioscia jokingly credited the Angels’ 14 runs in their last two games against Minnesota to hitting coach Don Baylor, who returned to the dugout after breaking his leg while catching a ceremonial first pitch on opening day.
”Our record and the standings are irrelevant right now,” Scioscia said. ”We need to continue to evolve as a team. … It really has no bearing where you’re playing or who you’re playing, but how you’re playing.”
Aybar, Grant Green and C.J. Cron each drove in a run for Los Angeles.
Pujols had two hits and scored, while Mike Trout went 1 for 3 with a walk. Josh Hamilton, who hasn’t homered since June 3, doubled and drove two balls to the center-field wall.
Oswaldo Arcia homered for the Twins, who have lost seven straight road games for the first time since September 2011.
Minnesota’s Yohan Pino (0-1) got through just three innings in his second major league appearance, yielding seven hits and five runs.
”Our kid didn’t really have an easy inning out there,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”They fought off an awful lot of pitches, fouled off a lot of pitches, and gave him some fits out there. That’s a good hitting team with some veterans who know how to do some things.”
Arcia snapped a 0-for-31 skid with his fifth homer in the second inning. Richards hadn’t given up a homer in June, allowing just two in his first 95 innings this season.
The Angels tied it in the bottom half when Aybar doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Green. Calhoun then drove in Cron and Chris Iannetta with a two-strike, two-out double down the right-field line.
Minnesota rookie Danny Santana left in the third inning after feeling soreness his left knee while running out a double. The promising shortstop and leadoff hitter, who pulled up sharply while running into second, has a hit in 27 of his first 37 major league games.
NOTES: Anthony Swarzak pitched three perfect innings in relief of Pino. … Richards had never started against the Twins. … Minnesota activated OF Aaron Hicks from the disabled list and optioned him to Double-A New Britain. Hicks strained his shoulder while diving for a ball June 7 in Houston. … As part of a Halfway to Christmas promotional night, the Angels handed out more than 35,000 Santa hats while festooning the Big A with wreaths, garlands, fake snow and real reindeer. The crowd set the Guinness world record for the most people wearing the holiday headgear in the same place during the fifth inning.