ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mark Trumbo homered in the Angels’ four-run first inning, Garrett Richards allowed four hits over seven strong innings, and Los Angeles snapped its six-game losing streak with an 8-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
J.B. Shuck drove in three runs for the Angels, who avoided their longest skid in more than three years by pounding Toronto starter Josh Johnson for 10 hits in the opener of a four-game series between underachieving clubs expected to be AL contenders.
With plenty of offensive support, Richards (3-4) was dominant in his first home start since April 20 and his second start since rejoining the Angels’ rotation, allowing two runs and striking out four.
Colby Rasmus had two hits and scored a run for Toronto, which had won five of seven.
Trumbo hit his 24th homer off Johnson (1-8), whose first career start against the Angels was a disaster. After allowing seven runs, Johnson was chased in the third inning with the bases loaded. His career-worst losing streak stretched to six starts.
The Angels stumbled home from an awful road trip with their waning playoff hopes further diminished by three straight losses in Texas on game-ending homers.
Those three gut-punch defeats dropped Los Angeles 10 games below .500 after harboring hopes of a late-season surge to contention during a trip that also included Albert Pujols’ move to the disabled list with a foot injury.
But Los Angeles led Toronto 3-0 after five batters when Howie Kendrick singled home Kole Calhoun and scored on Trumbo’s impressive shot to left on a hanging curve.
Los Angeles batted around in the first inning, scored another run in the second on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly, and chased Johnson in the third with four singles, Shuck’s RBI flyout and a walk.
Toronto left fielder Melky Cabrera made things worse in the third when he picked up Erick Aybar’s single and lost control of the ball while attempting to throw it back to the cutoff man, allowing Trumbo to score the Angels’ sixth run.
The ball comically popped into the air and landed behind Cabrera, who left the game in the fourth inning with what the club called irritation in his knee.
Richards faced little trouble until the fifth, when Adam Lind scored on Rasmus’ double and Calhoun’s error in right field. Rasmus then scored on a groundout by Maicer Izturis, the former Los Angeles utility infielder who got warm cheers from the Angel Stadium crowd in his return.
NOTES: Pujols will be in a walking boot for three more weeks, but the $240 million first baseman said he wants to play again this season, no matter where the Angels might be in the standings. Manager Mike Scioscia was more circumspect, saying a decision is still several weeks away. … Toronto activated RHP Sergio Santos from the 60-day disabled list and put RHP Dustin McGowan on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle. Santos, out since April 13 with an injured elbow, pitched two innings of relief, allowing one hit and one run. … Angels LHP Jason Vargas will throw a three-inning simulated game in the bullpen Saturday, and if it goes well, he’ll likely make a minor-league rehab start before Los Angeles considers putting him back in the rotation. Vargas hasn’t pitched since June 17 because of a blood clot in his left arm. … Los Angeles OF Peter Bourjos took batting practice on the field Thursday, continuing his slow comeback from a wrist injury. Bourjos hasn’t played since June 29, and injuries have limited him to only 40 games in what could have been his breakout pro season as the Angels’ starting center fielder.