Angels hold back Astros in 6-1 win

Garrett Richards records a career-high 11 strikeouts in the Angels' 6-1 victory over Houston Astros

KEY MOMENT: With the bases loaded and one out in the third inning, Albert Pujols stroked a 1-and-2 pitch from Collin McHugh into left field for a two-run single to end a scoreless tie and give the Angels slugger 1,555 runs batted in, tying him with Willie McCovey for 41st place on the all-time list.

AT THE PLATE: Leadoff batter Kole Calhoun had three hits, including a solo home run — his ninth — to right field in the seventh inning and is batting .374 (40 for 107) in his last 33 games, raising his average from .203 to .301. He leads the major leagues with 20 runs in his last 16 games. Pujols had a single in the eighth and is batting .333 (30 for 90) with 22 RBIs in 22 games.

ON THE MOUND: Another strong start by Garrett Richards improved the right-hander to 6-0 with a 1.45 earned-run average in his last seven starts. Left-hander Joe Thatcher, acquired from Arizona on Saturday, threw one pitch in his Angels debut, giving up a single to Jason Castro in the eighth.

IN THE FIELD: With a runner on first in the top of the eighth, Houston's Jon Singleton hit a popup in front of the mound. Catcher Hank Conger and first baseman C.J. Cron converged and collided, the ball squirting out of Cron's glove, but reliever Mike Morin made a diving grab just before the ball hit the ground.

SEVENTH HEAVEN: Some perspective on the eight-run seventh inning that propelled the Angels to an 11-5 victory Saturday. The Angels hit for 54 minutes, or three minutes longer than the shortest nine-inning game in major league history, a 51-minute sprint in which the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1, in the Polo Grounds on Sept. 28, 1919. The Astros threw 74 pitches, eight fewer than Atlanta Braves right-hander Greg Maddux needed to throw eight scoreless innings in Game 2 of the 1996 World Series against the New York Yankees. "I was asked if that inning seem long," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Not from our side, but when you're on the other side, it seems like two days."

EXTRA BASES: Third baseman David Freese, who bruised his left shin sliding into the plate Friday night, did not start for the second consecutive game but was available to pinch-hit. Scioscia expects Freese, who is batting .395 (17 for 43) with 12 RBIs in his last 13 games, to return to the lineup "in the next couple of days." … Instead of throwing another inning for Class-A Inland Empire on Sunday, reliever Fernando Salas (shoulder inflammation) was activated and threw a one-two-three ninth inning. Left-hander Michael Roth, who threw two scoreless innings to earn the victory Saturday night, was sent back to double-A Arkansas.

UP NEXT: Right-hander Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.56 ERA) will oppose Toronto right-hander J.A. Happ (7-4, 4.38) at Angel Stadium on Monday at 7 p.m. On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 830.

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