A.J. Burnett has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this season.
He will try to help the Phillies split their two-game set against the Angels at Citizens Bank Park with a victory Wednesday.
Burnett allowed nine hits, seven runs (six earned) , two walks and three home runs with four strikeouts in six innings last week in a 12-6 loss to the Blue Jays. He had been splendid in his previous four starts, allowing three earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.
Burnett faces Angels right-hander Garrett Richards, who has been the Angels' best starter this season and seems to be rounding into one of the best young pitchers in the American League. He is 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA, has struck out 46 batters in 45 innings, has an AL-low 6.0 hits per nine innings, has upped his strikeout rate to 9.2 (6.3 last year) and has five quality starts in his first seven outings.
Richards said his biggest adjustment over the years had been "not overthrowing the baseball. Discovering that you can go 90 percent, have a clean delivery, and the ball is still going to come out the same, if not better. That's something the special ones figure out early on, and some guys blossom a little bit later."
He has always had great stuff -- high-90s fastball and a nasty slider -- but he is finally starting to put it together.
"I think we saw signs of what he was capable of doing early on," Angels starter Jered Weaver said, "and now we're seeing this year that he can be one of the best pitchers in the league, if he puts his mind to it and puts his heart into it."
Angels: Trout returns to Philly in rough patch
Angels center fielder Mike Trout was scuffling at the plate entering his first Major League game in Philadelphia, with six hits and 15 strikeouts in his previous 43 at-bats. On Tuesday, Trout went 1-for-5 with a single up the middle and another strikeout, putting his American League-leading total at 48 and putting his batting average at .270.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he did not think the buildup to this trip, which culminated in Trout's Citizens Bank debut in front of thousands of fans from near and around his hometown of Millville, N.J., affected Trout's approach at the plate.
"He's been pretty focused every game he's played," Scioscia said. "I don't think he's looking past anything. His last 40 at-bats or so you wouldn't consider him locked in, but he's still doing things to help us win. That points to his talent."
Phillies: Papelbon available
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon should be ready to go the next time the Phillies have a save opportunity.
He told Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg he could not pitch Sunday in New York because of general soreness. He initially blamed the soreness on warming up too many times before pitching Friday and Saturday, which raised some eyebrows. But Papelbon started to throw a bit in the ninth inning Tuesday in the event the Phillies, who trailed by the final margin of 4-3, tied the game.
• The Angels led the Majors with 29 first-inning runs heading into Wednesday.
• The Angels are 89-46 (.659) in Interleague play since 2007, which is the best record in the Majors over that span.
• Infielder Jayson Nix, who the Phillies outrighted from the 40-man roster Monday, has elected to become a free agent.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.