ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Angels rallied past the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night, and the clubhouse felt as if they had just absorbed a difficult loss. Most of it had to do with watching a teammate get sent down to the minor leagues after another poor performance.
Rookie Garrett Richards surrendered three home runs but Los Angeles scored five times in the fourth and went on to a 9-7 victory. Kendrys Morales had a big two-run single, which got lost in the shuffle after Richards was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Manager Mike Scioscia kept the clubhouse closed for a half-hour. By the time reporters were allowed in, a downcast Richards was still at his locker getting some parting words of encouragement from teammates C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols and pitching coach Mike Butcher.
"Garrett was struggling with his command, first and foremost," Scioscia said. "He has such a live arm, but you need to command counts and he's having a lot of trouble doing that. So we're going to let Garrett go down and work on a couple of things so that he'll be more polished when he gets his next shot. I think we have a lot of things to mull over the next week, and we'll see how our rotation lines up after the (All-Star) break."
Richards gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, including consecutive first-pitch homers by Mark Reynolds and Ryan Flaherty to open the second and a three-run shot by Matt Wieters in the fourth.
"I made a mistake to Reynolds. The pitch to Flaherty was a fastball away, and he just did a good job of squaring it up and putting backspin on the ball. They're an aggressive team," Richards said. "The pitch to Wieters, I felt like it was a decent pitch. But he's a strong guy and he was able to lift it a little bit. But I don't think he hit it as well as it looked."
The 24-year-old right-hander has surrendered 20 runs and 28 hits along with eight walks over 15 1/3 innings in three starts since June 17, when he pitched eight innings of four-hit ball in a 2-0 win against Arizona.
"I still feel like I'm the same pitcher I was that day," Richards said. "Pitchers are going to go through streaks, just like hitters do. I've got to start throwing strikes more consistently. I'm missing my spots right now, the ball's over the plate and I'm getting hit around a little bit. So I've got to go back to the drawing board.
"I'm not discouraged at all. I'm motivated. I know I belong up here. I know what kind of pitcher I am, and they know what kind of pitcher I am. So I'm just going to keep doing my thing, keep pitching like I'm pitching, and let them make the decision."
LaTroy Hawkins (2-1), the second of six Angels pitchers, retired both batters he faced after relieving Richards and got credit for the victory.
Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his 11th save in 11 chances, keeping his spotless ERA intact in 25 appearances with the Angels and helping them climb within four games of the American League West-leading Texas Rangers.
The Orioles slipped 5 1/2 behind the idle New York Yankees in the AL East.
Baltimore right-hander Jake Arrieta failed to make it out of the fourth inning for the second straight time after getting staked to a 7-3 lead. The right-hander was charged with six runs, five hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. He is 1-7 with a 7.71 ERA in 12 starts since May 2, when he threw a career-high eight innings in a 5-0 victory at the Yankees.
Like Richards, Arrieta lost his spot in the rotation Thursday night.
The Orioles announced after the game that they have optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk.
Arrieta is 3-9 with a 6.13 ERA in 101.1 innings pitched in 18 starts for the Orioles this season. He lasted 3.2 innings in each of his past two starts, allowing a total of 11 earned runs in those 7.1 innings pitched.
"Obviously I've struggled, and tonight was a good example of that," Arrieta said. "But there's nothing I can really do about it now. The first half of the season didn't go as planned. I've worked as hard as I could to be highly successful here, and it didn't go that way. But you can't get too discouraged by it. You just have to keep plugging away and find a way to avoid starts like this."
The Orioles scored in the first, second and fourth, but Arrieta's failure to come up with a shutdown inning on any of those occasions ultimately led to his early exit.
"That's the most frustrating part of it -- when our guys give me a lead like that and I'm not able to get them back in the dugout quickly," Arrieta said. "We had a 7-3 lead in the fourth, and I know what my job is. I've either got to put up a goose egg or limit them to one run. A four- or five-run lead is enough for me to win a game."
Angels standout rookie Mike Trout came up in the fourth representing the tying run after Howie Kendrick's RBI single cut the margin to 7-4. He had to settle for his second sacrifice fly, but Torii Hunter greeted Luis Ayala (2-2) with an RBI single that trimmed the deficit to one. Pujols sent Hunter to third with a single before stealing second, and both runners scored on Morales' hit to left field.
Trout, heading to his first All-Star Game next week, stole three bases to increase his total to 26 -- all of them coming after his recall from Salt Lake on April 28. He manufactured a run in the sixth by stealing second and third, and continued home on catcher Wieters' errant throw past third baseman Wilson Betemit.
Angels RHP Dan Haren was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career because of stiffness in his lower back. RHP Kevin Jepsen was recalled from Salt Lake. ... Baltimore's Chris Davis was scratched with a right trapezius strain in his upper back, and Flaherty started in RF. ... Baltimore's Jason Hammel, who starts Saturday night against Jered Weaver, finished third behind Yu Darvish and Jake Peavy among the five pitchers eligible for the final AL All-Star berth in voting by fans online. Frieri was fifth behind Jonathan Broxton.
Second shot does the trick for Yankees' Hicks
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, who hasn't played since March 1 because of tightness in his back, said he's "doing great" after a second cortisone shot and is hoping to resume baseball activities soon.
Cubs relievers Morrow, Strop progressing well
Cubs relievers Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop each threw bullpen sessions this week as they recover from injuries.
A $430M bargain? Why Mike Trout might be worth a billion dollars
What if L.A. had given the outfielder $600 million? $700 million? Heck, with what the Angels will get for the next 12 years -- and beyond -- they could've handed him 10 figures.
Ichiro is a god and idol in Japanese baseball
Marly Rivera examines Ichiro Suzuki's impact on paving a path for young Japanese players to MLB.
Tigers RHP Fulmer needs Tommy John surgery
The Detroit Tigers announced Tuesday that pitcher Michael Fulmer needs Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.
Teixeira: Trout extension 'doesn't set a new bar' in MLB
Mark Teixeira explains what Mike Trout's $430 million extension means for the Angels and MLB player contracts going forward.