Garrett Richards' return encouraging for Angels, in desperate need of rotation help

10:48 a.m. ET Sept. 6, 2017   OAKLAND — The wobbly Los Angeles Angels rotation has been seeking a salve, if not a savior.

Not since Aug. 28 has an Angels starter completed six innings, and manager Mike Scioscia has been running through so many pitchers — and American League-record 12 on Monday and 43 in the last five games — that the club added two to the roster Tuesday, with a third one getting activated Wednesday.

Garrett Richards won’t play the role of a one-man rescue squad, at least not for a while. He was sidelined for too long, and the time remaining in the season is too short, for him to reestablish himself as the staff ace.

But the signs of that capability were on display again Tuesday, exactly five months after Richards’ last start, and the Angels will gladly take any help he can provide as they pursue their second playoff berth in eight years.

Richards fired several 96-97 mph fastballs among his 52 pitches and allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings as the Angels surged to second place in the wild-card race with an 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Ben Revere’s pinch-single in the 10th inning drove in the go-ahead run for Los Angeles, which played its fifth consecutive game lasting at least three hours and 49 minutes — this one went 4:12 — a major league first.

“Our offense has been really picking us up this last week,’’ manager Mike Scioscia said. “We can do a better job on the mound. It’s going to be tough to reach our goal unless we can get to a certain point in the game (with the starter).’’

Tuesday’s outing marked the 10th time in the last 33 games an Angels starter failed to complete five innings. In this case, it was expected. Scioscia had declined to specify a pitch limit for Richards, but the 50 figure that had been bandied about.

Initially, Richards looked like he might stick around long enough for the five innings it takes to qualify for a win, dispatching the first six A’s batters on 19 pitches and breezing through the opening inning in a mere five.

Oakland put runners on the corners with one out in the third but Richards escaped unscathed. He wasn’t as fortunate in the fourth, when Khris Davis followed Jed Lowrie’s leadoff double with a stinging liner to center that fell in when center fielder Mike Trout failed to pursue it aggressively.

One out later, Chad Pinder crushed a slider for an RBI double off the left-field fence, driving in the A’s first run and ending Richards’ night.

“It felt great just to get back out there and compete, be out there with my teammates and just grinding right there with them instead of sitting on the side and watching games go by,’’ said Richards, who allowed four hits and struck out three. “This is a good one to build off of and hopefully next time I’ll go a little bit longer.’’

Richards, who overcame a major knee injury late in the 2014 season to win 15 games the next year, has been beset by arm woes since then. A torn elbow ligament limited him to six appearances in 2016, and after he opted to treat it with stem-cell therapy instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, Richards returned to action April 5, also at the Coliseum against the A’s.

He left that game after 4 2/3 scoreless innings due to biceps tightness but sounded unconcerned at the time, merely playing it safe after such a long layoff.

It took him five months to step on a big league mound again, as the tightness turned into a lingering strain. Richards is jumping back in as the playoff race picks up steam, and he relishes the chance to pitch in.

“To be able to come back and be a part of something like that after the guys have been grinding all year, it makes me want to step my game up to the next level,’’ he said. “I did everything I could to get back this year and I plan on continuing to move forward.’’

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