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OC Register: Garrett Richards, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols help to end Angels’ losing streak


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  • Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols celebrates after his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols celebrates after his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • San Francisco Giants’ Mac Williamson reacts after striking out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    San Francisco Giants’ Mac Williamson reacts after striking out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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  • Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout watches his home run against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout watches his home run against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland, left, watches as Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout rounds the bases after a home run during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland, left, watches as Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout rounds the bases after a home run during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards rubs up a new ball after giving up a two-run home run to San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards rubs up a new ball after giving up a two-run home run to San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Jefry Marte (19) celebrates at the dugout after his home run against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Jefry Marte (19) celebrates at the dugout after his home run against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt celebrates in the dugout after his two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt celebrates in the dugout after his two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt watches his two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt watches his two-run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout cannot get a glove on a home run ball by San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout cannot get a glove on a home run ball by San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt during the second inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards watches a throw to a San Francisco Giants batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards watches a throw to a San Francisco Giants batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Derek Holland throws to a Los Angeles Angels batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols watches his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols watches his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols (5) celebrates with Mike Trout after his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols (5) celebrates with Mike Trout after his two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout steals third under San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout steals third under San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, April 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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ANAHEIM — The thaw began with Garrett Richards throwing a flawless first inning, continued in the third with Mike Trout’s American League-leading eighth homer and then with Albert Pujols’ tiebreaking two-run blast in the sixth, his 2,992 career hit.

By night’s end, the Angels put an end to a week’s worth of misery on the mound and at the plate, ending a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory Saturday over the San Francisco Giants. Richards set the tone by matching his career high with 11 strikeouts in six superb innings.

Keynan Middleton earned his fifth save by recording the final four outs.

A week that began with a frozen field and a postponement in Kansas City seemed to chill the Angels to the bone upon their return to sunny Southern California. The Angels were outscored 27-3 during a three-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox.

The Giants arrived Friday and delivered an 8-1 beatdown.

All the good work established during a 13-3 start to the season seemed to be forgotten during a string of poor performances by their starting pitchers, which resulted in an overworked bullpen. The Angels’ hitters were no help, either, and one lopsided result followed another.

The Angels tied a franchise record by giving up eight runs or more in four consecutive games for the first time since August 2015. They also equaled another dubious club record by giving up 14 home runs during a four-game stretch.

Richards gave the Angels’ beleaguered teammates exactly what they needed, a confidence-booster. He retired the Giants in order in the first inning, the first time an Angels pitcher had accomplished the feat since he did it during their victory one week earlier in Kansas City.

Manager Mike Scioscia insisted before the game that there was no added pressure on Richards.

“When you start to magnify one game, I think you put some false pressure that shouldn’t be there,” he said. “You’ve got play the game freely, the same way you played in the spring, the same way you played in the season, the same way if you’ve won 10 games in a row.

“You play the same way. You play hard and focus on winning.”

Richards ran into trouble in the second, although Trout nearly bailed him out with what would have been a spectacular catch in front of the new, lower fence in right-center. Trout gloved Brandon Belt’s drive for an instant, but he couldn’t hold on and the ball bounced free for a two-run homer.

The Angels trailed for the fifth consecutive game.

This time, they rallied, though.

Jefry Marte slammed a two-out homer off Giants lefty Derek Holland to cut the Angels’ deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Trout tied it with a blast over the fence in left-center on the first pitch he saw from Holland with two outs in the third.

Richards settled into a comfortable rhythm by then, keeping the Giants off base with his slider. He departed with a 4-2 lead, thanks to Pujols’ two-run homer off Holland, after Justin Upton drew a one-out walk. Pujols needs eight hits to reach the 3,000 mark.

Pujols would join Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez as the only players in major league history with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. Pujols’ homer Saturday was the 618th of his Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

Pablo Sandoval made it 4-3 for the Giants with a RBI double in the eighth.

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