The Toronto Blue Jays hoped Josh Johnson hit rock-bottom during a winless July.
Instead, his first start of August somehow got even uglier.
Mark Trumbo homered in the Angels’ four-run first inning, Garrett Richards allowed four hits over seven strong innings, and Los Angeles snapped its six-game losing streak with an 8-2 victory over Toronto on Thursday.
J.B. Shuck drove in three runs for the Angels, who avoided their longest skid in more than three years by pounding Johnson for 10 hits in his sixth consecutive loss.
“He’s a good guy, and you feel for guys like that,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of the veteran right-hander. “He’s had a lot of success at this level, and he’s at rock-bottom right now.”
Trumbo hit his 24th homer off Johnson (1-8), whose first career start against the Angels was a disaster.
After allowing seven runs, Johnson was chased in the third inning with the bases loaded, putting the Blue Jays in a hole they couldn’t escape against Richards.
Johnson extended his career-worst losing streak and became the first Blue Jays pitcher to allow 10 hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings or fewer.
“It’s frustration. That’s it,” Johnson said. “I’m out there trying to battle, trying to get through it and trying to stay positive. You’ve got to find a way. I’ll come back and watch some video and do whatever I can to get back. The worst part is doing this to my bullpen and my teammates. I felt like I made some pretty good pitches, but they were hitting the ball all over the place.”
Los Angeles led Toronto 3-0 after five batters when Howie Kendrick singled home Kole Calhoun and scored on Trumbo’s impressive shot to left on a hanging curve.
Los Angeles batted around in the first inning, scored another run in the second on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly, and chased Johnson in the third with four singles, Shuck’s RBI flyout and a walk.
Juan Perez struck out Mike Trout and Hamilton with the bases loaded to prevent Johnson from getting charged with even more runs, but the Blue Jays have no idea what to do with the veteran right-hander’s struggles.
“There were a couple of small adjustments we made tonight that obviously didn’t help too much,” Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker said. “They put some good swings on the ball. He elevated some pitches and definitely pitched to the middle part of the plate a little bit too much. … At this point, we’re trying to figure out how to get him through the rest of the season.”
Toronto left fielder Melky Cabrera made things worse in the third when he picked up Erick Aybar’s single and lost control of the ball while attempting to throw it back to the cutoff man, allowing Trumbo to score the Angels’ sixth run.
The ball comically popped into the air and landed behind Cabrera, who left the game in the fourth inning with what the club called irritation in his left knee.
After the game, the Blue Jays placed Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Neil Wagner.
Colby Rasmus had two hits and scored a run for Toronto, which had won five of seven.
The Angels won the season’s first meeting between two of the AL’s most disappointing clubs. Los Angeles (49-58) is 13 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West, and Toronto (50-58) is 15 games out in the East.
“We look for wins, whether or not we’re in the thick of it,” Trumbo said. “This is a team that’s not going to stop working hard, no matter what we’re facing.”
With plenty of offensive support, Richards (3-4) was dominant in his first home start since April 20 and his second start since rejoining the Angels’ rotation, allowing two runs and striking out four.
“This is a fighting club,” Richards said. “We’re definitely not giving up as a team. We’re not panicking. We still have 50-something games to go, and we’re still going to show up at the yard every day ready to go.”
Richards faced little trouble until the fifth, when Adam Lind scored on Rasmus’ double and Calhoun’s error in right field. Rasmus then scored on a groundout by Maicer Izturis, the former Los Angeles utility infielder who got warm cheers from the Angel Stadium crowd in his return.