- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Jason Castro came to the plate with one out in the seventh inning and the Houston Astros still looking for their first hit against Garrett Richards.

Castro stroked a 2-2 pitch the other way to left field for a single that loaded the bases. But all the Astros could muster was one run Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

“Richards has so much movement on his fastball that he’s a tough guy to square up,” Castro said. “When he can manipulate that breaking ball when he wants to and throw it for a strike - or throw it under the zone to get guys to chase - that makes him tough. That’s why he’s as good as he is.”

Richards (3-1) walked his first batter of the game, then retired 15 in a row before walking rookie Preston Tucker to open the sixth. The right-hander walked his first two in the seventh before striking out Colby Rasmus, but Castro broke up the no-hit bid.

“It was a backdoor breaking ball,” Castro said. “He had thrown me a couple earlier in the at-bat. I saw it decently well and just tried to stay through and not try to do too much with it. After that we had the bases loaded there, and I thought we had a pretty good opportunity.”



Richards struck out Marwin Gonzalez before hitting Tucker with his 110th and final pitch, forcing in a run. Fernando Salas retired pinch-hitter Evan Gattis on a popup in short right field, with second baseman Johnny Giavotella fighting the bright sun all the way.

Richards was more upset about the four walks he issued than he was about losing his chance at a no-hitter. But with his pitch count as high as it was, a complete game was unlikely.

“I don’t feel like you should start thinking about something like that until you go out for the ninth inning, because there’s a lot of things that can happen before then,” he said.

Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth inning and Huston Street did likewise in the ninth for his 10th save in 12 attempts, following back-to-back blown saves Wednesday and Thursday.

Richards has a 2.25 ERA in five starts, including a 4-3 loss April 19 at Houston. He fanned 10 in the rematch to win his third straight decision as the Angels gained a four-game series split and trimmed Houston’s lead in the AL West to five games.

“Anytime you’re playing your division opponent, and they won the division last year, it would have been nice to come in here and win the series. But having a split here is not the worst thing in the world,” losing pitcher Scott Feldman said.

The Angels did all their scoring in the fifth against Feldman (2-4), charged with six hits in seven innings. The right-hander, coming off his shortest outing this season, lost his second in a row after giving up six runs and nine hits over three innings in a 7-1 home loss to Seattle.

“Sometimes it just happens where you get in one of those games where their guy was throwing great,” Feldman said. “He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. So when he’s on his game, he’s pretty tough.”

Chris Iannetta snapped a scoreless tie with an infield hit that scored two runs. Feldman went into a slide to field Iannetta’s roller toward the third base line and tried for a force at the plate on David Freese, but threw the ball way over Castro’s head while on the seat of his pants.

The error allowed Erick Aybar to come home as well, and Kole Calhoun followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

“It was just one of those plays where you’ve got to go with your instinct,” Feldman said. “I just tried to get there as fast as I could, but it wasn’t a good throw.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: LHP Brett Oberholtzer is expected to make his season debut Wednesday night against San Francisco. He was slated to be the team’s No. 3 starter before developing a blister on his index finger. … Houston closer Luke Gregerson is expected back from the emergency family leave list on Tuesday. … RF George Springer is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (4-0) is 11-0 with a 2.45 ERA over his last 14 starts. He will face the Giants for the first time in his career Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game series at Houston. McHugh needs a victory to tie the franchise record for consecutive wins.

Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson (1-2) pitches Tuesday night against Colorado.

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