Angels hand Richards ball in opener with Mariners

Garrett Richards tries to follow up a brilliant effort in his last start when he takes the hill for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the opener of a four-game set with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Richards was terrific in beating the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, as he scattered two hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 1-0, while lowering his ERA to 2.55. He also struck out eight without walking a batter in the 10-0 win.

"I don't pay attention to the score. I try to pitch the same, whether it's 9-0 or 0-0," Richards said.

Richards has faced the Mariners six times (1 start) and is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA.

Los Angeles failed to build on a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, as it lost two of three to the Texas Rangers, including an 11-3 drubbing in Wednesday's rubber match.

Peter Bourjos and J.B. Shuck drove in a run each for the Angels, while Michael Roth (1-1) suffered the loss in his first career start as he was tagged for five runs on six hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

Seattle, meanwhile, also enters this series on a sour note after it dropped two of three to the Houston Astros, culminating with a 10-3 shellacking on Wednesday.

Jeff Smoak hit a solo home run and Robert Andino had one RBI for the Mariners, losers in five of their last six games. Starter Joe Saunders (1-3) struggled through five innings, allowing eight runs on 11 hits to go along with two walks in the setback.

"Forget it easily," Saunders said. "That's it. Bad days happen."

Getting the call for the Mariners on Thursday will be righty Brandon Maurer, who is 1-3 with a 7.45 ERA. Maurer pitched well in defeat on Saturday in Texas, as he allowed two runs and two hits in 6 2/3 innings.

After getting hit hard for six runs in each of his first two starts, Maurer has allowed four earned runs his last two times outs.

"I've been really happy with his last two starts," Seattle skipper Eric Wedge said. "I think he sees the game differently now than when he first came up, which is very common for a young starting pitcher. Which gives him an ability to focus and keep his mind in the moment and do what he needs to do. All those things are working in his favor. And of course, he has the stuff."

The Angels were 11-8 against the Mariners last season.