Garrett Richards is adamant that he belongs in the big leagues, and he is getting another chance to prove it.
Richards can take another step toward a more permanent place in the Los Angeles Angels' rotation Sunday in the home finale of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Richards (2-0, 0.86 ERA) went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three starts with ace Jered Weaver on the disabled list. He allowed four hits and four walks over eight-plus innings last Sunday to earn a 2-0 victory over Arizona.
"I'm up here to take advantage of my opportunities," Richards said. "I feel that I'm ready to stick here and help this team win, and it's just a matter of getting opportunities."
Weaver returned Wednesday for the Angels (39-33) on the same day Jerome Williams was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to shortness of breath. That has given Richards a chance to continue in the rotation for now.
"We wouldn't have given (Richards) the ball if we didn't think he was ready for the major leagues," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's shown he's ready, and his stuff is major-league quality."
The right-hander will try for a better effort against the Dodgers (43-29) than he did June 11. Richards yielded two runs and walked a career-high five over five innings and didn't get a decision in a 3-2 road victory.
The Angels are trying to win their sixth straight series against the Dodgers after splitting the first two games of this set. They rallied from a five-run deficit to win Friday's opener 8-5 before going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position in Saturday's 3-1 defeat.
Slugger Albert Pujols felt the late afternoon start time was a reason for the Angels' woes Saturday.
"It was also pretty tough to see the ball after the second inning with those shadows out there," he said. "I'm not making any excuses, but you should have seen the way both sides were taking swings."
Sunday's game is at a more traditional start time in the afternoon.
Friday's contest featured contributions from some key hitters for both clubs. Juan Rivera and Andre Ethier combined for six hits for the Dodgers while Mike Trout reached base three times and Torii Hunter had two hits and two RBIs for the Angels.
Those players were less of a factor Saturday. Ethier and Trout each went 1 for 4 while Rivera and Hunter were hitless in four at-bats.
This series continues to showcase the speed of Trout and the Dodgers' Dee Gordon. Gordon is second in the majors with 22 stolen bases - five against the Angels - while Trout leads the AL with 20, four coming versus the Dodgers.
Veteran Aaron Harang (5-4, 3.86) will get the start for the Dodgers, bringing in a 3-8 mark with a 4.76 ERA in 13 career interleague road outings.
The right-hander issued a career-high eight walks and lasted 3 2-3 innings in Tuesday's 3-0 loss at Oakland. He gave up all three runs in a 40-pitch first inning and finished with his shortest outing over the last two seasons.
Harang was far better in his previous start June 12 against the Angels, surrendering two unearned runs over seven innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-2 victory.
He has faced Pujols more than any other hitter, with the superstar batting .314 with five homers and six doubles in 70 at-bats.