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OC Register: Garrett Richards loses pitchers’ duel, as Angels fall to Justin Verlander, Astros


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  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards wipes his face in the dugout against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards wipes his face in the dugout against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • The Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani bats in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani bats in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels’ Zack Cozart commits an error in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels’ Zack Cozart commits an error in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards reacts as Josh Reddick rounds the bases after the Houston Astros’ Evan Gattis hit a two-run home run in the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards reacts as Josh Reddick rounds the bases after the Houston Astros’ Evan Gattis hit a two-run home run in the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards walks to the dugout after giving up a two-run home run to the Houston Astros’ Evan Gattis in the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards walks to the dugout after giving up a two-run home run to the Houston Astros’ Evan Gattis in the second inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards looks to the outfield as he heads for the dugout after the third inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards looks to the outfield as he heads for the dugout after the third inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout prepares to hit against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout prepares to hit against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards in the dugout between inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards in the dugout between inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout take this batting gloves off as the field is dragged by the grounds crew after he popped out to first to tend the third inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout take this batting gloves off as the field is dragged by the grounds crew after he popped out to first to tend the third inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani jogs to the dugout after grounding out in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani jogs to the dugout after grounding out in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani talks with Andrelton Simmons in the dugout during their game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani talks with Andrelton Simmons in the dugout during their game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Andrelton Simmons grounds out to third to end the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Andrelton Simmons grounds out to third to end the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards throws to the plate against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Fans cheer for the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani  during their game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    Fans cheer for the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani during their game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani reacts to a pitch during Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium. Ohtani struck out three times in four at-bats against Astros ace Justin Verlander. The Angels lost 2-0. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani reacts to a pitch during Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium. Ohtani struck out three times in four at-bats against Astros ace Justin Verlander. The Angels lost 2-0. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani flips his bat after striking out swinging to end the sixth inning as Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann heads to the dugout on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium. Ohtani struck out three times in four at-bats against Astros ace Justin Verlander. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani flips his bat after striking out swinging to end the sixth inning as Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann heads to the dugout on Wednesday night at Angel Stadium. Ohtani struck out three times in four at-bats against Astros ace Justin Verlander. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards celebrates after Mike Trout made a nice catch in center field on a line out by the Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel in the top of the event inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards celebrates after Mike Trout made a nice catch in center field on a line out by the Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel in the top of the event inning at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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ANAHEIM — Garrett Richards was burned by one bad pitch in an inning that should have been over.

And that was too much.

Richards gave up a two-run homer after a two-out error in the second inning, which was enough to send the Angels to a 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros and a dominant Justin Verlander on Wednesday night.

Verlander pitched a complete game five-hitter, escaping his only jam when he got Mike Trout on a one-pitch check-swing dribbler in front of the plate to strand two runners in the eighth.

Richards couldn’t quite keep up with the future Hall of Famer, although he still pitched one of his best games of the season. He needed only 91 pitches to get through seven innings, without allowing an earned run.

It’s been a nice turnaround for Richards since the nine-run nightmare game against the New York Yankees on April 28. In three starts since, he’s posted 1.42 ERA with 16 strikeouts and two walks. He’s improved his season ERA to 3.47.

His performance on Wednesday came down to one quick sequence when his mistake followed one by Zack Cozart.

With two outs in the second inning, Josh Reddick hit a fairly routine ground ball toward shortstop, where third baseman Cozart was stationed with the Angels in a shift. The ball took a strange hop just before it got to Cozart, who was still able to glove it but couldn’t get a grip to throw it. It was ruled an error.

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Richards threw Evan Gattis a 96 mph fastball over the inner half of the plate, and Gattis yanked it over the left field fence, putting the Astros up 2-0.

Richards bounced back nicely after that hiccup, retiring eight of the next nine hitters. He didn’t get into any more trouble until the fifth when he gave up back-to-back singles, but he escaped that jam by getting Alex Bregman to hit into a double play.

Richards retired all six hitters in the sixth and seventh while waiting for his teammates to do something against Verlander.

Verlander, one of the best pitchers of his generation, has started his 13th season on an otherworldly hot streak.

Coming into his start against the Angels, Verlander had a major league-leading 1.21 ERA, with 77 strikeouts in 59-2/3 innings. He had allowed only 30 hits. The 35-year-old right-hander was facing the Angels for the second time this season, after allowing two runs in seven innings last week in Houston.

This time, he dominated the Angels for seven innings, allowing only two singles, by Andrelton Simmons in the second and Albert Pujols in the fourth.

The Angels didn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, when Ian Kinsler singled and Kole Calhoun, who carried a .159 average to the plate, launched a ground rule double to center field, sending Kinsler to third.

Verlander, though, recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena.

Trout then tried to check his swing on fastball at the top of the zone, but the ball hit his bat and rolled in front of the plate. Verlander picked it up and threw to first, retiring the side.

The Angels got runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Verlander got Cozart on a pop fly to first to end it.

More to come on this story.

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