The Los Angeles Angels still have slim hopes of winning a third straight AL West title.
They’ll try to stay alive for another day when they open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on Monday.
Los Angeles (84-71) staved off elimination for the second straight day with a 7-1 victory at first-place Oakland on Sunday, cutting the Athletics’ lead to six games with seven left for both teams.
Oakland has a magic number of two to clinch the West and plays at Seattle on Monday.
“Our challenge is well-defined,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll need some help. Coming down to the end of the season, we have to concentrate on what we’re doing and keep winning games.”
“We can’t worry about that. We have to worry about Texas and we have to think about Texas,” Angels center fielder Chone Figgins said.
The Angels received outstanding efforts from their starting pitchers in the last two games. John Lackey allowed two runs over seven innings in a 6-2 win on Saturday before Ervin Santana gave up one run and two hits in eight innings on Sunday.
Rookie Joe Saunders (6-3, 4.29 ERA) will try to give Los Angeles another solid outing. He gave up one run and seven hits over seven innings in a 5-2 victory at Kansas City on Tuesday.
“I buckled down and tried to keep the ball down,” Saunders said. “I had better command tonight. I could throw all three pitches for strikes.”
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two starts against Texas this year.
Guerrero has hit safely in 50 of 52 career games against the Rangers. He’s also batting .400 (24-for-60) with five homers and 13 RBIs in 16 games against them this season.
Los Angeles is 9-7 against Texas this season, including a 4-3 mark at home.
Texas opens a six-game road trip to end the season as it bids to finish with a winning record for the second time in three years. The Rangers have played well on the road with a 39-36 mark, but went only 39-42 at home.
“It would have been a lot better season if we had played well at home but it just hasn’t happened,” third baseman Hank Blalock said. “It’s disappointing.”
Shortstop Joaquin Arias will make his first major league start for Texas on Monday. Arias, who was part of the deal that sent Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees in 2004, was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on Sept. 5 and is 1-for-3 with a walk for the Rangers.
Michael Young, who’s tied for second in the AL with 208 hits, will make room for Arias by serving as the designated hitter. He’s only 6-for-31 at Angel Stadium this year.
Edison Volquez (1-5, 6.53) has failed to pitch past the fifth inning over his last five outings, going 0-4 with an 8.84 ERA and a .410 opponent batting average in that span.
The 23-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 9.95 ERA in three career appearances against the Angels. He’s starting against them for the second time this year after giving up two runs over five innings in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 14.
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