John Lackey’s most recent start was his worst of the season.
Lackey (6-2, 1.93 ERA) gave up six runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 7-5 home loss to Toronto on Saturday. The right-hander, who was 5-0 with a 1.16 ERA in his previous six starts, yielded more than three runs for the first time in 10 starts after missing the first 1 1/2 months of the season with a strained biceps.
“John wasn’t as good as we’ve seen him, but he pitched better than his line score showed,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the team’s official Web site.
Lackey will try to avoid losing consecutive starts for the first time since Aug. 17-22, while helping the Angels (54-37) rebound from Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Texas (48-44). That came after Los Angeles fell 3-2 on Tuesday following a 9-6 win in Monday’s opener.
Lackey is 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA in five road starts this season, and 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA in his last four starts versus the Rangers. This will be his first outing against Texas this season.
He’ll likely have to contend with Hamilton, who stunned the Angels on Wednesday by hitting a two-run homer off Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The home run was the center fielder’s first in 19 games and increased his major league-leading RBI total to 89. He’s third in the AL with 20 homers.
“There’s been a drought on the home runs. At the same time, you can’t think about when you’re going to hit your next one,” said Hamilton, who drove in two runs Tuesday. “But that’s why you keep battling, keep playing. Something always happens like that to remind you why you love the game.”
Hamilton, named to the All-Star team, is 0-for-3 against Lackey.
The Rangers are expecting to have fellow All-Star Milton Bradley, hitting .315 with 17 homers and 54 RBIs, back in the lineup after he sat out Wednesday’s loss because of soreness in his left knee.
Bradley, the AL leader with a .441 on-base percentage, played the previous two games after leaving Sunday’s 11-10 win at Baltimore because of tendinitis.
Bradley drew six walks in 10 plate appearances over his last three games, including three walks Monday. The right fielder, though, is 1-for-9 in his last four games, and he’s 1-for-11 with three walks in his career against Lackey.
The Rangers’ Scott Feldman (3-3, 4.39) will be looking to win a third consecutive start for the first time. The Rangers have won the last four starts by the right-hander, who has a 3.18 ERA in that span.
Feldman gave up three runs and three hits in the first inning Saturday, but yielded only two hits in the next five before exiting a 5-3 win at Baltimore.
He’ll try to improve on that in his first start versus the Angels. He’s 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in nine relief outings against them.