Espinosa stays hot as Angels blank A's

Espinosa stays hot as Angels blank A's

OAKLAND -- The Angels used timely hitting to nail down their second straight victory at the Coliseum on Wednesday evening, but their 5-0 win over the A's was tempered by starter Garrett Richards' premature exit.

The right-handed Richards, who was making his first start since May 1 after opting for stem-cell therapy over Tommy John surgery to treat elbow ligament damage, accompanied a trainer out of the game with two outs in the fifth. The Angels announced biceps cramping as the reason for his removal, which they deemed precautionary. More >>

Richards leaves with an injury

Nevertheless, the scene cast a shadow over an otherwise encouraging performance: Richards held the A's to just three hits, retiring 11 in a row at one point. He had early run support to boot, as the Angels jumped on A's starter Jharel Cotton for three runs in the second inning, later tacking on two more against the right-hander in the fifth to hand him his first career loss.

"Maybe not his best stuff," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "After the first, they made him work a little harder even though it was a couple bloops hits they got him for the first few runs in the second inning."

Andrelton Simmons' RBI double got the Angels on the board in the second, and Danny Espinosa, whose three-run homer lifted his club to victory the night before, followed with a two-run single. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols collected back-to-back run-scoring singles in the fifth.

Simmons' RBI double

"We played good baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had some clutch hits, had a lot of opportunities tonight and got five runs. Our bullpen did a terrific job. We have to get more length from our starters eventually, but our bullpen picked us up. JC Ramirez did a tremendous job tonight."

Pujols' knock prompted Cotton's departure with one out in the inning. Cotton, making just the sixth start of his big league career, offered up eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts on the night.

Pujols' RBI single

The A's mustered just six hits, to the Angels' 13, stranding multiple base runners in three innings. Right-hander Frankie Montas was the lone bright spot for them, stranding Cotton's final two base runners and tossing 2 2/3 innings in his Oakland debut. Montas and Cotton arrived in the same trade from the Dodgers last summer, when the A's shipped Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to Los Angeles.

"Last night he gave me a ride home, and I was like, 'I got your back just in case, man,'" Montas said. "Turns out I was able to save those runs for him."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Alvarez works out of a jam: After Richards departed and left a pair of runners on base in the fifth, Scioscia brought in left-hander Jose Alvarez to face the left-handed hitting Matt Joyce with two outs. Melvin countered by sending up righty bat Mark Canha as a pinch-hitter for Joyce, but Alvarez induced an inning-ending pop out to first base, preserving the Angels' 5-0 lead.

Alvarez gets out of a jam

A's fail to cash in: The A's also threatened in the sixth after Khris Davis hit a two-out single and advanced to third on Stephen Vogt's double, but Ramirez defused the threat by striking out Trevor Plouffe swinging on a 96-mph fastball.

WHAT'S NEXT
Angels: Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will make his season debut Thursday afternoon as the Angels wrap up their four-game series with the A's at the Coliseum. Skaggs is entering his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery and posted a 1.35 ERA over three Cactus League starts this spring.

A's: The A's will cap off this four-game series with right-hander Andrew Triggs on the mound in Thursday's 12:35 p.m. PT finale. Triggs, who will be making his season debut, begins his second big league season. He posted a 4.31 ERA in 24 games -- six of them starts -- over eight stints with the A's last year.

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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.