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MIN@LAA: Richards fans five over 7 1/3 innings

The Angels have had trouble on the road recently, but they're playing well as of late and are visiting a ballpark on Monday that they've enjoyed success in over the past couple of seasons.

Despite losing Sunday's series finale, 5-4, to the Royals, the Halos have won eight of their past 11 games. They continue to look up in the standings, however, at the A's, who have a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League West after having won 11 of their last 14.

Los Angeles looks to cut into that lead by continuing its success against the White Sox when the two clubs open a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night. The Angels swept a home series against the White Sox earlier this season, and despite having lost 11 of their last 15 road contests, the Halos have won six of their last eight in Chicago.

Garrett Richards is having a stellar month on top of what has been an excellent season overall in 2014. As he gets ready to take the mound to open the series against Chicago, the right-hander brings with him a 4-0 record and a 1.05 ERA in five starts in June.

Richards is making a strong case for a selection to his first All-Star team, but he's focused on a goal beyond the Midsummer Classic.

"There's still another half of baseball to play after the All-Star Game, so that's kind of what I'm worried about," Richards said after his last start, in which he gave up two runs over 7 1/3 innings in a win over the Twins on Wednesday.

The quest for the postseason continues for Richards and the Angels on Monday against right-hander Hector Noesi, who is slated to make his 12th start for Chicago. Noesi began the season with the Mariners before Seattle traded him to the Rangers, and he was released by Texas following three appearances.

Since being claimed off waivers by the White Sox, Noesi has lowered his season ERA from 14.21 to 5.07. In his last outing, he limited the Orioles to two runs in seven innings but had to settle for a no-decision.

The White Sox endured a stretch in which they lost nine of 11 before winning four of their last six, including taking three of four from the AL East-leading Blue Jays over the weekend. They hope their two hottest hitters will continue to produce as they return to U.S. Cellular Field, where Chicago is 21-18 this season.

Jose Abreu continues his historic rookie campaign, and has six home runs and 13 RBIs in his current 14-game hitting streak.

"It was important to regain rhythm as a team, and we played good as a team, did some things to help out our guys," Abreu said after belting two homers to lead Chicago to a 5-4 win in Toronto on Friday.

The White Sox hope to carry that rhythm from the weekend over into their six-game homestand -- a tall order against a hot Halos club.

Angels: Grilli's role in bullpen still undefined
Right-hander Jason Grilli made his Angels debut on Saturday after being acquired in a trade that sent right-hander Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates. Grilli tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning in a 6-2 win over the Royals.

He made another relief appearance in Sunday's series finale against Kansas City, entering a tie game in the ninth and taking the loss after hitting Alex Gordon and eventually surrendering a walk-off single to Omar Infante.

Grilli was an All-Star closer for Pittsburgh in 2013, finishing with a 2.70 ERA and 33 saves last season. But he struggled for the Bucs this season, posting a 4.87 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. The 37-year-old veteran's role within the Angels' bullpen is still being determined, according to manager Mike Scioscia.

"We're trying to get everything settled in our bullpen," Scioscia said after Saturday's game. " … The back end is critical for us, and having Jason in there is going to be big."

Grilli said before Sunday's game that he made a minor adjustment with his mechanics, though he didn't elaborate much.

"I hate to talk mechanics, but it's a minor adjustment," Grilli said. "How minor it was is if your radio station is 95.7, I was on 95.9. So, just a little off base."

White Sox: Closer role to be filled by committee for now
The closer-by-committee approach isn't ideal, but White Sox manager Robin Ventura isn't rushing to name a new ninth-inning reliever after Ronald Belisario was knocked from the role on Friday against the Blue Jays. Zach Putnam got the call in the ninth on Saturday to earn his first career save, but that doesn't mean the job is now his.

"He's going to pitch, I don't know if he's going to be in the ninth," Ventura said of Putnam. "It's going to be dependent on matchup, usage, all that stuff. We'll see who to use in the ninth. Just because he closed [Saturday] doesn't mean he gets it."

Putnam has been a pleasant surprise for the White Sox this season, and has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in 31 1/3 innings this season.

"It's not yet to the point where we're going to have one guy [who's] going to be the guy," Ventura said.

Right-hander Jake Petricka pitched the ninth inning in Sunday's 4-0 win in Toronto, giving up a single.

Worth noting
• Angels center fielder Mike Trout is 4-for-9 (.444) with a triple and two RBIs against Noesi.

• A win Monday night would push Chicago's winning streak to four games, tying their longest of the season. Comments