AT THE PLATE: The Angels closed out a rough 2-4 trip to New York and Tampa Bay on a high note, amassing 14 hits, 10 of them — and five runs — coming off a Rays bullpen that entered with a 3.35 earned-run average. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols homered in the same game for the 24th time. Trout, Johnny Giavotella and Efren Navarro each had three hits, Navarro looking like a player who could take at-bats away from the struggling Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron. "We have an idea of what Efren can do — he showed it last year," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He can work some counts. He's not going to drive the ball like some guys, but as players get opportunities and they perform, they're going to get more playing time."
ON THE MOUND: Garrett Richards rebounded from the worst start of his career with a superb game, giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one to improve to 6-4 and lower his ERA to 3.97. Richards gave up a two-run homer to Steven Souza in the second, the first homer he's ever given up on a 0-and-2 count. He retired 17 of the next 19 batters. "The biggest thing was strike one," Scioscia said. "He was in the zone early with some great stuff." Richards said he worked between starts on "sticking my landing and finishing square," and he was more aggressive Thursday, attacking the strike zone and getting ahead in counts. "I've been searching a little bit this year, maybe trying to do too much at times," said Richards, who was 2-2 with a 7.91 ERA in his previous four starts. "I'm starting to get back to a good, clean delivery that gives me a chance to throw strikes around the zone. I like the direction it's going."
RUST REMOVER: Setup man Joe Smith, who hadn't pitched since June 1, struck out two of three in a scoreless eighth, and closer Huston Street, who hadn't pitched since June 3, gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth. "They were going to get into the game no matter what," Scioscia said. "They needed to pitch, and they got it done."
REHAB REPORT: Third baseman David Freese (right hamstring tightness) did not play but was available to pinch-hit. "As far as playing the field or designated hitter, we're not going to have a read on that for another day or two," Scioscia said. "But he's moving in the right direction, which is good." … Reliever Mike Morin (left rib-cage strain) is scheduled to resume throwing off a mound Friday. … Outfielder Collin Cowgill (right wrist sprain) took batting practice again Thursday and could begin a minor league rehabilitation stint by next week.
UP NEXT: Left-hander Hector Santiago (4-3, 2.55 ERA) will oppose Oakland right-hander Jesse Chavez (2-6, 2.51) at Angel Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 1330.