Richards allowed three hits over five scoreless innings in his first start since April 30. Oakland rallied against Dane De La Rosa and Scott Downs, though, and the Athletics beat the Angels 3-1 on Saturday.
"I was just going to go out there and try not to overthrow, pound the lower half of the strike zone," Richards said. "Strike one was a big priority for me."
Richards made 26 relief appearances between starts and gave the Angels, who have lost five of their last seven games, exactly what they needed.
"He definitely gave us a chance," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It started off a little fuzzy, with him trying to find his release point. Once he did, he pitched a strong game."
Josh Hamilton hit his 15th home run with one out in the second to give the Angels the early lead. A's starter Tommy Milone didn't give up anything after that.
"It's hard to shut down the A's," Hamilton said. "At some point they are going to score a run or two."
They scored all three of their runs in the seventh. De La Rosa threw a scoreless sixth and walked Josh Reddick leading off the seventh. After getting Chris Young to hit into a forceout, he was replaced by Downs (2-3), who had not allowed a run in any of his previous 29 appearances, one off the team record.
"You like the matchup with his sinker and hopefully he can get double play ball," Scoiscia said.
A's pinch-hitter Derek Norris ruined those plans, driving Downs' first pitch into the bleachers for a home run that put the A's ahead. Jed Lowrie later doubled home a run.
"I was trying to get something down and away and it stayed in the middle," Downs said. "All streaks come to an end. I don't really think about all that. I just think about going out and making pitches. Unfortunately I got one up and he took care of it."
Not only did Downs give up a run for the first time since May 1, also in Oakland, it ended his major league record for most career games (42) against Oakland without a losing decision.
"I can't remember the last time Downs gave up a home run," Scioscia said.
Downs last home run allowed was last Sept. 25 when Seattle's Justin Smoak went deep.
NOTES: Angels DH Albert Pujols returned to Los Angeles to have his sore left foot evaluated. He aggravated the injury running out a single in the ninth inning of Friday's game. ... RHP Tommy Hansen (4-2, 4.75) starts Sunday's series finale for the Angels. It will be his second start since returning from the DL. Hansen is 2-0 in three road starts. ... The Angels had won the past 14 games in which Hamilton recorded an RBI. ... The A's and Angels participated in a Throwback Day to 1969, which included Country Joe McDonald, of Woodstock fame, singing the national anthem.