The early runs that have been so difficult for the Angels to generate for 31/2 weeks arrived in a nice little bundle Tuesday night.
Kole Calhoun hit a towering two-run home run to center field, his career-high 18th of the season, and Albert Pujols hit a solo shot to left field, his 33rd, in the first inning to propel the Angels toward a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The early cushion allowed Garrett Richards to attack the strike zone more aggressively during a seven-inning start in which the Angels right-hander gave up three runs — two earned — and eight hits, struck out four and did not walk anyone. Of his 95 pitches, 67 were strikes.
The last time the Angels scored three runs in the first inning was July 7 at Colorado. Their last two-run first inning was July 28 at Houston. They hadn't scored three first-inning runs at home since June 24, 2014, against Minnesota.
"It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders," said Richards, who was also backed by an infield that turned three double plays. "You don't have to be as fine. You can start going right at guys, attacking the zone, and when you do that, you're going to be successful."
Richards gave up two singles to open the eighth inning, but Joe Smith induced three consecutive groundouts to limit the damage to one run. Closer Huston Street retired the side in order in the ninth, winning a 10-pitch battle with Melky Cabrera, for his 29th save.
The Angels had only five hits, but one was a fourth-inning double by Johnny Giavotella, who scored on an error, and one was a seventh-inning double by Carlos Perez, who scored on Shane Victorino's infield single.
"We didn't have many hits," Manager Mike Scioscia said, "but we made them count."
Chase is off?
Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro said it is "very likely" that second baseman Chase Utley, linked to the Angels and several other teams in trade speculation, will finish the season in Philadelphia. Amaro made similar comments about Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon, who were traded.
"I don't think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly," Amaro told Phillies writers. "And the Phillies don't have the desire to move him."