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Maturing Richards turning the page quickly

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CHICAGO -- Garrett Richards bounced back brilliantly in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, giving up a first-inning three-run homer to Jose Abreu and then retiring 23 of the next 25 batters as he continued to make a strong case for the All-Star Game.

Last year, he admits, an outing like that probably goes a lot differently.

"The pitcher I am this year is far beyond the pitcher I was last year or the year before that," Richards said. "Even last year, the year before that, that game could've snowballed and I would've been out in the fourth inning. That just goes back to me just moving on and going back to controlling what I can control and making quality pitches."

Richards lost out to Mariners ace Felix Hernandez for the American League's Pitcher of the Month Award on Wednesday, but that's probably because his latest start -- eight innings, three runs, two hits, two walks, nine strikeouts -- was pushed back to the first of July because of Monday's rainout.

That doesn't change the fact that he's eighth in the AL in ERA (2.81), fifth in WHIP (1.07), tied for fifth in wins (nine) and eighth in strikeouts (108). Since giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the A's on May 30, the 26-year-old has a 1.49 ERA in six starts.

Somewhere along the way, he's mastered the art of turning the page.

"That's the maturing process that I've gone through as a pitcher," Richards said, "and I'm happy with the direction I'm moving."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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