ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols and Kole Calhoun homered to help the Angels erase an early three-run deficit and emerge with a 9-3 win over the Mariners in Tuesday's series opener at Angel Stadium.Mitch Haniger launched a three-run shot off right-hander Garrett Richards to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead just
ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols and Kole Calhoun homered to help the Angels erase an early three-run deficit and emerge with a 9-3 win over the Mariners in Tuesday's series opener at Angel Stadium.
Mitch Haniger launched a three-run shot off right-hander Garrett Richards to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead just three batters into the game, but the Angels got one run back on Justin Upton's RBI single in the bottom of the first and then tied it with another pair of runs in the second. Pujols' two-run homer highlighted a four-run fourth that put the Angels ahead, 7-3, and Calhoun padded the lead with a solo shot in the fifth.
The come-from-behind win helped erase some of the sting from losing Richards, who departed his start in the third inning with right forearm irritation. Richards, who might be the Angels' most valuable trade chip at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Wednesday. Richards missed most of the 2016 season with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, though he avoided Tommy John surgery by undergoing stem-cell therapy.
"It's tough," Calhoun said. "We're just kind of hoping for good news tomorrow. He's been battling for the better half of a couple years. Hopefully, everything comes back all right."
Richards' injury comes during a pivotal stretch for the Angels, who pulled within 10 games of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot with Tuesday's win. They have five more games against Seattle in Anaheim this month, giving them a chance to gain some ground in the race and revive their playoff hopes, but that climb will be all the more difficult if Richards misses considerable time.
Noe Ramirez, Cam Bedrosian, Jose Alvarez, Hansel Robles and Taylor Cole combined to pitch 6 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Richards, giving the Angels' bats a chance to rally. Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons and Michael Trout combined to go 8-for-13 with four runs, a double, four RBIs and two walks at the top of the lineup to set the table for the productive evening at the plate.
"We need to pressure teams on the offensive side and take a little pressure off our starting pitchers," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Even though we got behind today, we were able to do that. I think Kole and Simba set the tone, for sure. The guys in the middle of the order had plenty of opportunities. The whole lineup was really effective and efficient."
The Angels' resilience was tested early on Tuesday, as Dee Gordon and Jean Segura led off the game with back-to-back singles before Haniger hammered a first-pitch slider from Richards to left field for a three-run homer.
The Angels got on the board in the bottom of the first on three singles from Calhoun, Simmons and Upton and then tied it with two more runs in the second. After Luis Valbuena reached on an error by Gordon, Martin Maldonado ripped a double to left field to put runners on second and third with no outs. Calhoun cut the deficit to 3-2 with a run-scoring groundout, and Simmons brought in the tying run with an infield single that deflected off the glove of Mariners right-hander Mike Leake.
Simmons, a Final Vote candidate, went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and also made an impressive play in the hole to throw out Segura in the third. Segura, who is also on the Final Vote ballot, currently leads the American League tally, while Simmons ranks fifth.
Richards retired the first two batters he faced in the third, but he missed badly on a first-pitch slider to Nelson Cruz and then fired two fastballs that were clocked at 92.2 and 92.8 mph, a tick below his 96.4 average this season. Team trainer Adam Nevala and Scioscia came out to check on Richards, who departed the game after a brief discussion on the mound and was replaced by Ramirez, who earned his fourth win of the season after working 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
"You could just see that the ball just wasn't coming out of his hand the way we know it can," Scioscia said of Richards. "Obviously, we'll just let the medical staff give us direction. He'll have a study done tomorrow. We'll see what's going on."
The Angels produced the go-ahead run in the fourth after Calhoun singled and scored on Simmons' RBI double to left field. Leake nearly escaped further damage after inducing a double play from Upton, but Pujols then delivered a two-run home run that pushed the Angels' lead to 6-3. Pujols deposited an 0-1 knucklecurve into Seattle's bullpen in left field for his 14th home run of the season and the 628th of his career. He is two home runs away from tying Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth on the all-time list.
After Shohei Ohtani reached on another error by Gordon to keep the inning alive, Ian Kinsler capitalized by lining an RBI single to left field to make it 7-3.
Calhoun added another insurance run with a solo shot off reliever Nick Rumbelow in the fifth. Calhoun crushed a hanging slider to center field for his sixth home run of the year. He is now batting .273 with five home runs and 11 RBIs since returning from the disabled list on June 18.
"It's great to see Kole back," Scioscia said. "He's got that little swagger back. He feels good. Great night for him tonight."
Right-hander Jaime Barria (5-5, 3.39 ERA) will battle left-hander Marco Gonzales (9-5, 3.64 ERA) on Wednesday as the Angels and Mariners continue their three-game series at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. In two starts against Seattle this season, Barria is 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA. He will be seeking his first winning decision since June 1.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.