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Richards shuts down Brewers in split-squad victory

Righty gives up one run in 6 1/3 innings; Kendrick, Aybar contribute offensively

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels' best start of the spring came from a guy who isn't slated to be in their rotation.

At least not yet.

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Garrett Richards, fighting for a spot on the staff throughout Spring Training, pitched efficiently and effectively through 6 1/3 innings against the Brewers, giving up only one run on three hits in the Angels' 5-1 win at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday.

"I'm figuring it out," Richards said. "I'm pretty happy with where my delivery is right now. Pounding the zone for me is a big thing, and getting ahead of guys, putting guys away. I've been talking with other guys on the team, and early on in spring, even though I had success, I got too much into pitching to contact instead of just letting my stuff work. I'm feeling really confident with my stuff now and we'll see what happens."

Angels starters -- and that includes everyone that has started games, not just the five members of the rotation -- came in with the highest ERA in the Majors, at 8.21.

Richards, who could help in the rotation or bullpen, has a 1.88 ERA in 14 1/3 Cactus League innings.

Marco Estrada, slated to be the Brewers' No. 2 starter, gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in five innings, leaving him with a 1.88 spring ERA after his penultimate start of the spring.

Mike Trout scored on a passed ball and Howie Kendrick hit an RBI triple in the first, giving the Angels an early 2-0 lead. Erick Aybar, who will bat second to start the season, reached base twice, scored a run and executed a sacrifice bunt.

Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, the former Angels prospect acquired in last July's Zack Greinke trade, hit a triple and scored on Aramis Ramirez's RBI double in the fourth.

Up next: Jason Vargas toes the rubber on Sunday when the Angels host the Giants at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 1:05 p.m. PT on MLB.TV. Vargas, who lines up as the No. 4 starter, gave up five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park and will be making his second-to-last spring start. Fellow lefty Barry Zito will go for San Francisco.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Erick Aybar, Howard Kendrick, Garrett Richards