Garrett Richards optioned to Triple-A

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The long line of encouragement began with reliever Jordan Walden, who walked over to a broken Garrett Richards in one dark corner of the Angels clubhouse Thursday night. Then it was 39-year-old veteran Jason Isringhausen who dropped by to offer his words of wisdom, followed by All-Star C.J. Wilson and pitching coach Mike Butcher.

Richards, 24, had just been optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake City, the roster move acting as one last dagger in his worst night as a big leaguer. He's still young, though, and highly regarded in the organization. The outpouring of support from fellow pitchers proved it.

"I have to start throwing strikes more consistently," Richards said after cleaning out his locker. "I have to go back to the drawing board."

The Angels came from behind to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-7, but Richards was battered for a career-high seven earned runs, 10 hits and three home runs, failing to make it out of the fifth inning. He gave up 15 earned runs over his past three starts after giving up only two in his previous three. The potential is undoubtedly there, but the Angels couldn't wait for him to figure things out.

"Garrett's starts have been a little short recently," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It became apparent tonight that we needed another arm this weekend."

On a day when right-hander Dan Haren went on the disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career, the Angels rotation was dealt another blow. Ervin Santana (4-9, 5.75 ERA) has been unable to snap out of his funk and fifth starter Jerome Williams (chest) won't be back until after the All-Star break. Sunday's starter has yet to be named. A corresponding move to Richards' optioning will be announced Friday.

Scioscia said Richards will get at least one start at Triple-A next week and, depending on the team's needs, could be back fairly soon.

"I still feel like the same pitcher. Pitchers are going to go through streaks just like hitters are," Richards said. "I'm not discouraged. I'm motivated. It's back to work."