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ARI@LAA: Richards shuts down the D-backs over eight

Garrett Richards is still trying to find a way to make his stay in the Angels' rotation a permanent one.

If he can continue the pace he's set through four outings -- 2-0 with 0.86 ERA -- and do so on a big stage -- Sunday's rubber match of the Freeway Series against the Dodgers -- he certainly wouldn't hurt his cause.

Richards takes the ball for the Angels as they look to win their sixth consecutive series against their crosstown rivals Sunday in Anaheim. The Dodgers notched a 3-1 victory on Saturday and can even the season series with a win Sunday.

Initially called upon to replace the injured Jered Weaver, Richards got news he'd stay in the rotation on Wednesday when Jerome Williams was placed on the disabled list with breathing problems.

"Like I said before, I'm up here to take advantage of my opportunities," Richards said. "I feel that I'm ready to stick here and help these guys win, and when I'm called upon, I'm going to go out there and try to give us the best chance to win a ballgame. I'm just going to keep plugging away and look forward to my next start."

The rivalry has been somewhat lopsided over the last three seasons as the Dodgers haven't won a series since 2009 and have won just five of 17 games during that stretch.

Right-hander Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.76 ERA) will be looking to put a halt to that trend when he faces the Angels for the second time this season. He took a no-decision in his first outing against the Halos on June 12, tossing seven innings and allowing two runs, neither of which were earned, in the Dodgers' 5-2 win.

Harang studied some video of his last start, in which he allowed a career-high eight walks against Oakland. In doing so, he said he discovered a flaw in the way his hands separated from his glove to start his wind-up.

"It's all about timing and we worked on it in the bullpen [Thursday]," Harang said. "If I don't split my hands properly, my arm is late and my pitches are high, above the strike zone."

Dodgers: Gordon breaks out of slump
• Even manager Don Mattingly acknowledges the club may have been a bit hasty in handing the everyday shortstop job and leadoff spot to Dee Gordon.

He's been slow to progress, hitting just .224 this year, but Gordon nonetheless broke out of an 0-for-17 slump with a 2-for-4 day on Saturday that featured a couple defensive gems.

Gordon's solid finish to 2011 led many to believe the 24-year-old would settle in right away as the shortstop of the future. That included Mattingly.

"We kind of assumed he would take off again, and his Spring Training was really good," Mattingly said before Saturday's game. "We talk about that being a factor. It's been more of a battle than I thought."

• Right fielder Andre Ethier is riding the second longest error-less streak in baseball at 263 games, trailing only Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez.

Angels: Red-hot Trout could be All-Star
• Rookie center fielder Mike Trout has been nothing short of brilliant since his callup from Triple-A Salt Lake in April. Trout is hitting .337 with seven homers and a .929 OPS.

It raises the question of whether Trout, who spent three weeks in the Minors to start the season, has put up the numbers in a condensed period of time to merit an All-Star selection, which would likely come through the player vote. Torii Hunter seems to think so.

"The numbers he's put up in that leadoff spot, and as a rookie, it really doesn't matter [when he was called up]," the Angels right fielder said "I've seen guys make the All-Star team and they've missed the whole month, so I definitely think he has a good chance. But if he doesn't, he's still an All-Star in my book."

Worth noting
• Albert Pujols is the only Angel with more than 10 at-bats against Harang, and he's faced him 75 times -- most of them coming when Harang was with the Reds and Pujols with the Cardinals.

Pujols is hitting .314 off Harang with five homers, six doubles and 13 RBIs.

• The Angels are 28-16 all-time against the Dodgers in games played at Angel Stadium.

• The Dodgers haven't posted an Interleague record of .500 or better since 2009, when they went 9-9. This season they have assured themselves a sub-par mark with their current 6-8 record with just one game to play against the American League.

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