Yet even with a spot starter and a strikeout-happy lineup, Chase Utley and the Dodgers nearly grabbed a season sweep of the Angels before Albert Pujols snatched it away.
Pujols drove in Kole Calhoun with the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, and the Angels snapped their eight-game skid in the Freeway Series with a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Scott Schebler homered for the Dodgers on Richards' first pitch, but they lost for just the third time in 16 games. The Giants' loss kept the Dodgers 8 1/2 games up in the division race, but the Dodgers' five-game winning streak was snapped despite Utley's tying two-out, two-strike RBI double in the eighth.
"To win two series on the road has been good for us," third baseman Justin Turner said. "Earlier in the year, we didn't play well on the road, so it's nice to win some series."
Joe Wieland yielded four hits over four innings in his first big league appearance since May 6 for the Dodgers. After two weeks of inactivity, he did fairly well as the fill-in starter for Mat Latos, a late scratch with a stiff neck.
Calhoun doubled into the right-field corner leading off the eighth against Luis Avilan (2-5) and advanced when Andre Ethier bobbled it. After Pedro Baez struck out Mike Trout, Pujols bounced a one-out single through the middle.
"We went after Albert," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Either try to go for the punchout, or get a ground ball. It just didn't work out. We got a ground ball, but it just went up the middle."
Garrett Richards matched his career high with 11 strikeouts during 7 2-3 innings of four-hit ball, snapping his slider with authority as the Angels beat their local rivals for the first time since last year.
"I just felt good with all my stuff," said Richards after barely missing his 14th victory. "I got ahead early and put guys away."
The Angels hadn't even led a game against the Dodgers this season until Taylor Featherston tripled and scored on Calhoun's sacrifice fly in the third inning.
David Freese had an early RBI double for the Angels, who pulled within 3 1/2 games of Texas for the second AL wild-card spot with the Rangers' loss, although Minnesota is between them.
Jose Alvarez (4-3) struck out Adrian Gonzalez to end the eighth, and Huston Street pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Until Featherston scored, the Angels hadn't led the Dodgers at any point in any game this year, or in seven consecutive meetings dating to last season. They hadn't held on to a lead for a full inning in any of their eight straight losses to the Dodgers.
Schebler's homer followed Justin Ruggiano's leadoff homer in the Dodgers' 6-4 win on Tuesday night. The Dodgers hadn't led off consecutive games with homers since July 12-13, 1951, when Carl Furillo did it both games for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Dodgers: Latos was scratched about three hours before game time. His one-run performance against the Angels last month has been his only outstanding start since joining the Dodgers in a trade.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker played catch Wednesday in the next step in his rehabilitation of a strained right forearm. He still doesn't know when he'll return to the rotation.
Dodgers: After a day off, Alex Wood (10-9, 3.51 ERA) is likely to start at Arizona on Friday, but manager Don Mattingly hasn't confirmed his reconfigured rotation in the wake of Latos' scratch.
Angels: After a day off, Jered Weaver (6-10, 4.78 ERA) takes the mound for their series opener against AL West-leading Houston.