- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Arizona Diamondbacks let Garrett Richards off the hook early and paid dearly for it.

Jeremy Hellickson retired his first two batters in all six innings he pitched against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, and was nursing a 1-0 lead until he gave up a two-out walk to Mike Trout and a home run to Albert Pujols in the sixth.

Randall Delgado served up another two-run shot to David Freese in the eighth, and the Diamondbacks’ four-game winning streak ended with a 4-1 loss.

“We had some opportunities to get some runs and open it up against a guy that was having trouble finding the strike zone,” Arizona catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “We did a great job of making him throw pitches and getting his pitch count up so that we could get to their ‘pen. Jeremy did everything he could to keep us in that game, but we just couldn’t get the runs in.”

Thanks in part to a fielding error by rookie Taylor Featherston in his fourth start at second base in the big leagues, Richards (7-4) found himself in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first after just nine pitches. He got a visit from pitching coach Mike Butcher before striking out Yasmany Tomas and retiring Jake Lamb on a grounder.



“Butch has been there since the beginning. He knows how to calm me down, and he knows what my thought process is for whatever reason, and whatever situation I’m in,” Richards said. “He just does a good job of controlling me. He knows me better than anybody else, and it’s helpful.”

Butcher went to the mound again in the second after Chris Owings led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Chris Perez with one out and Nick Ahmed at the plate - the second one coming on ball four to the D-backs’ No. 9 hitter. A.J. Pollock drove in Owings with a sacrifice fly.

Richards pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, allowing an unearned run and three walks. The right-hander struck out four and retired his final 11 batters.

“This was the first time I’ve faced him, but I heard a lot of good things about him,” Owings said. “He got off to a little shaky start, but he just kept battling and pitching his butt off. He’s got a good fastball and he comes right at you. He also had some of his off-speed stuff working.”

Hellickson (4-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, striking out six and walking one. The right-hander, who came in with a 5.29 ERA, hasn’t pitched seven full innings in any of last 22 starts since Aug. 6, 2014.

“It’s very frustrating, to say the least,” Hellickson said. “I’m just really mad at myself right now. It’s the most disappointed I’ve been after a start this year.”

The Angels managed only three hits through the first five innings - two-out singles by Trout, Perez and Kyle Kubitza in the first, second and fifth. But Trout slipped off Hellickson’s hook after getting behind 1-2 in the count, and Pujols drove a 2-1 pitch to left-center for his 539th homer, his 19th of the season and 11th in 18 games.

“The way Richards was throwing, I’ve got to keep the ball in the yard right there,” Hellickson said. “I wanted to throw a fastball down and away to Pujols, but I just left it up a little too much. I just can’t make that pitch to that guy in that situation.”

Freese capped the scoring with his 10th homer after a two-out walk to Pujols, and Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 22 attempts.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia wanted a different look offensively after watching his team produce just five runs over the previous three games. Trout and Pujols were moved back to third and fourth, respectively, while Kole Calhoun replaced Trout in the two hole after batting cleanup in 24 of the previous 27 games and hitting .235 with three homers and 14 RBIs during that stretch.

UP NEXT:

Diamondbacks: RHP Chase Anderson (2-1) will make his 13th start of the season as the scene shifts to Phoenix for the final two games of this four-game showdown. He is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA in eight starts since losing 5-4 to Colorado on April 27 at Chase Field. Last Friday at San Francisco, Anderson pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in a 1-0 victory.

Angels: LHP Hector Santiago (4-3) is coming off his third straight no-decision since beating Detroit 2-0 with 7 1/3 innings of three-hit ball at home.

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