Garrett Richards thinks he's ready for a regular spot in the Los Angeles Angels' crowded rotation, even after ace Jered Weaver returns from injury.
He'll get no argument from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who learned all about this 24-year-old with the nasty fastball during the biggest game of his young career.
Richards pitched four-hit ball into the ninth inning of his sixth career start, Albert Pujols homered and made two stellar defensive plays, and the Angels beat Arizona 2-0 Sunday for their 18th win in 24 games.
Rookie Mike Trout ended a 1-for-20 slump with an RBI double in the seventh inning for the Angels, who posted their major league-best ninth shutout victory — and their second in a row after Ervin Santana's one-hitter Saturday night.
Richards (2-0) nearly matched Santana's numbers, if not his unhittable stuff, and the Angels celebrated yet another series victory.
"Most of the guys getting on the base with me were saying, 'Man, where did this kid come from?"' said Pujols, who has nine homers and 26 RBIs since May 15. "He's so young, and he's already got the stuff, which is good, because you can't teach that."
Richards repeatedly escaped trouble in the longest start of his career, striking out five and walking four.
The surging Angels (36-31), who moved a season-high five games over .500, have won 12 of their last 13 interleague series. Los Angeles is easily the majors' best interleague team since the start of 2007, going 70-32.
Ian Kennedy (5-7) allowed six hits over eight strong innings for the Diamondbacks, but his teammates haven't scored in 21 consecutive innings, leading to a sombre clubhouse before Arizona headed home.
A 21-game winner last season, Kennedy has lost seven of his last nine starts.
WASHINGTON — Ivan Nova pitched effectively into the eighth inning to win his fifth straight start, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano hit solo homers and the New York Yankees beat the Washington Nationals 4-1 Sunday for their ninth consecutive victory
Nova (9-2) gave up seven hits in 7 2-3 innings, keeping him unbeaten in his last 15 road starts — a streak that's been going for more than a year. He is 12-0 away from Yankee Stadium since losing to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on June 3, 2011.
Granderson homered off Edwin Jackson (3-4) in the fifth to break a 1-all tie. Cano made it a two-run cushion in the seventh against Tom Gorzelanny as the Yankees swept a three-game series between division leaders to extend their longest winning streak since May 2009.
They've also won seven in a row on the road and have swept three consecutive series of three games or more for the first time since 1998.
Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.
ATLANTA — Wei-Yin Chen combined with four relievers on a seven-hitter and Baltimore continued its success in interleague play by beating Atlanta.
The Braves, who have lost six of seven, were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since June 5-6, 2009. Jason Hammel threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory for the Orioles on Saturday night.
The Orioles, who remained 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East, have won seven of eight. They are 9-3 in interleague play with series wins over Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
Chen (7-2) gave up six hits and a walk in seven innings to outpitch Randall Delgado (4-7), who allowed only three hits in eight innings. Jim Johnson worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb pitched two-hit ball for seven innings and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homer to lead Tampa Bay over Miami.
Cobb (3-3), who lost his previous three starts, struck out a career-high 10 and walked only one. Joel Peralta worked a perfect inning and Fernando Rodney earned his 19th save, completing the two-hitter.
Josh Johnson (4-5) allowed two runs in six innings for the Marlins, who have dropped 10 of 12. It was his first interleague defeat since June 23, 2007, against Minnesota.
DETROIT — Max Scherzer (6-4) struck out 12 in eight dominant innings, rookie Quintin Berry had a career-high five hits and Detroit beat the staggering Colorado Rockies.
Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each had an RBI double. Gerald Laird added three hits and Berry finished 5 for 5 to help the Tigers win their third straight series, all against National League teams.
Jeremy Guthrie (3-6) was pulled after a 53-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth. The Rockies have lost 10 of 11.
Colorado slugger Carlos Gonzalez was scratched moments before the first pitch with a strained right knee. He was replaced in the lineup by Dexter Fowler, who struck out in his first three at-bats, all with runners on base.
CLEVELAND — Pedro Alvarez drove in a career-high six runs with his second two-homer game in two days, powering Pittsburgh past the Cleveland Indians.
Alvarez hit three-run homers in the fourth and fifth innings for his fourth career multihomer game. He also doubled in his first game with three extra-base hits.
Tony Watson (4-0) worked 1 2-3 innings of relief and the Pirates took two of three for their sixth series win in the last seven tries.
Jeanmar Gomez (4-6) allowed eight runs — four earned — in 4 1-3 innings. Eight runs came directly after three errors by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The Indians lost for the fifth time in six games.
Pittsburgh scored nine runs for the second straight game after totalling 13 during a four-game skid.
MINNEAPOLIS — Denard Span had an RBI single with two outs in the 15th inning and the Twins rallied to beat Milwaukee in the longest game played at 2 1/2-year-old Target Field.
Anthony Swarzak (1-4) worked a perfect 15th for the win in a game that lasted 4 hours, 50 minutes.
Trevor Plouffe led off the 15th with a single off Tim Dillard (0-2), and went to second on a single by Brian Dozier. Carroll then lined a single to right field and Plouffe ran through a stop sign by the third base coach and was tagged out in a rundown. Dozier advanced to third base during the play.
Span singled off Juan Perez for the go-ahead hit.
Corey Hart had a three-run homer in the fifth to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead.
Twins catcher Joe Mauer left the game in the seventh inning with a bruised right quadriceps. He's day to day.
SEATTLE — Justin Smoak's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki from second when the throw home hit Kawasaki in the back, giving the Mariners a win over San Francisco.
Sergio Romo (2-1) allowed back-to-back singles to open the ninth before being replaced. After Michael Saunders failed to bunt the runners over, Smoak lined a single to left off Javier Lopez.
Tom Wilhelmsen (3-1) pitched a tense, but scoreless, ninth inning.
Wilhelmsen got Nate Schierholtz, pinch-hitting for Buster Posey, to ground out to second to end the inning.
LOS ANGELES — Juan Rivera tied the score in the ninth with a sacrifice fly — three innings after the Dodgers had one taken away on an appeal play — and Dee Gordon singled home the winning run in the 10th to give Los Angeles a victory.
Tony Gwynn Jr. lined a one-out triple under the glove of a diving Jordan Danks as he charged the ball in left field. Matt Treanor followed with a hard grounder to second baseman Gordon Beckham with the infield in, forcing Gwynn to stay put. Bobby Abreu was intentionally walked and Gordon lined a single to left against Matt Thornton (2-5), whose wild pitch in the eighth inning of Friday's series opener let in the decisive run.
Ronald Belisario (3-0) pitched two hitless innings for the victory.
ST. LOUIS — Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer with two outs in the 15th inning, lifting Kansas City over the Cardinals.
Betancourt had put the Royals ahead in the 14th with an RBI double but closer Jonathan Broxton (1-1) failed to hold the lead.
Down to their last strike in the ninth, pinch-hitter Billy Butler homered for the Royals to tie it.
Jarrod Dyson began 15th inning with a bunt single off St. Louis reliever Eduardo Sanchez (0-1). Dyson was sacrificed to second and, after an out, Betancourt hit an 0-1 pitch into the Royals' bullpen.
Alex Gordon opened the 14th with his fifth walk, tying the club record he set on July 30, 2008, at Oakland.
ARLINGTON, Tex. — Ian Kinsler had a bases-clearing triple and Adrian Beltre hit a two-run homer in a seven-run sixth inning, lifting the Rangers to a victory over the Astros.
Colby Lewis (6-5) gave up three hits and walked one while striking out 10 in seven innings to win his second straight decision. The Rangers won for the fifth time in six games.
Dallas Keuchel gave up four hits and four walks in five-plus innings in his major league debut for the Astros. Fernando Rodriguez (1-7) replaced him after Nelson Cruz singled to open the sixth and was charged with four runs in two-thirds of an inning.
OAKLAND — Clayton Richard pitched into the eighth inning for his second consecutive win and San Diego beat the Athletics to avoid a three-game sweep.
Everth Cabrera scored on a groundout in the second and the Padres tacked on an insurance run in the ninth to salvage the finale of their nine-game road trip. San Diego is still 19 games under .500 and last in the NL West.
Richard (4-7) scattered five singles over 7 2-3 innings. Huston Street got four outs for his eighth save in eight chances.
Jonny Gomes had three hits for the A's, who had won a season-high five straight. Bartolo Colon (6-7) left after 30 pitches with a strained muscle on his right side.
NEW YORK — Brandon Phillips hit a tiebreaking single and made a between-the-legs flip to start a flashy double play, leading Johnny Cueto and Cincinnati over the New York Mets for its sixth straight win.
The NL Central leaders completed their first three-game sweep in New York since 2001 and matched their longest winning streak of the season. The Reds also finished 6-2 this year in visits to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
Cueto (8-3) struck out a season-high eight in seven innings. He also doubled for the first extra-base hit of his career.
The only run against Cueto came when he issued a bases-loaded walk to 6-foot-10 pitcher Chris Young (1-1). Sean Marshall got four outs for his ninth save.
CHICAGO — David Ortiz homered and Ryan Kalish had a tiebreaking RBI single to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night.
Kalish also scored on Daniel Nanva's squeeze bunt to cap Boston's three-run seventh inning that gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead.
Matt Albers (2-0) pitched one inning to pick up the win.
The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs against Alfredo Aceves in the ninth, but after David DeJesus hit a sacrifice fly to centre, Reed Johnson struck out and Darwin Barney hit a popup to third baseman Nick Punto to end the game
Shawn Camp (2-4) gave up hits to both batters he faced — a double to Darnell McDonald and single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia — to start the seventh.
Kalish then singled to centre off James Russell to drive in McDonald and put the Red Sox ahead 4-3. Saltalamacchia scored on pinch-hitter Will Middlebrooks' sacrifice fly, with Kalish advancing to third on catcher Wellington Castillo's fielding error. Kalish then scored on Nava's bunt.
Ortiz hit his 16th home run of the season in the fourth inning when he drove a 2-2 changeup off Cubs starter Paul Maholm to the left-centre field bleachers, giving Boston a 3-2 lead.
The Cubs have lost 24 of their last 31.