After salvaging a split in their recent series with another of the AL’s top teams, the first-place Los Angeles Angels hope for a better outcome against one of the worst.
The Angels look for a third straight victory in the opener of a three-game home set with the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
After scoring one run through the first two games of its series with Minnesota, Los Angeles (79-50) beat the Twins 7-5 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday to earn a split against the team with the seventh-best record in the majors.
The Angels now face an Oakland club which has the AL’s third-worst record. Los Angeles owns a 16 1/2-game lead atop the AL West despite winning four of its last 11.
The A’s (59-71) trailed Los Angeles by 3 1/2 games on June 30, but have gone 14-34 since and are 20 1/2 games back of Los Angeles in the West.
Despite Oakland’s recent struggles and their own big division lead, the Angels want to improve on their 8-5 mark against the A’s in 2008.
“We’re still competitors,” first baseman Mark Teixeira told the Angels’ official Web site. “We still want to go out there and win every game. There’s no one here who doesn’t care if we win or lose.”
Teixeira homered and had three hits for the second straight game Sunday. He’s batting .386 (32-for-83) with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 23 games since being acquired from Atlanta.
Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 50th save, leaving him within seven of Bobby Thigpen’s major league single-season record.
“I would love to get that record. I’m not going to lie to you,” said Rodriguez, who has converted his last 12 save opportunities versus Oakland. “It’s not all about me. It’s about the ballclub and winning ballgames.”
Jered Weaver (10-9, 4.47 ERA), who has failed to earn a decision in his last two starts since beating the New York Yankees on Aug. 8, takes the ball for the Angels. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings of a 5-4 win at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in five career starts versus the A’s, but has yet to face them in 2008.
Oakland counters with Dallas Braden (3-3, 4.53) as he makes his seventh straight start since joining the rotation after some time in the bullpen and Triple-A.
Braden, 2-3 as a starter, has allowed three runs or less in three straight starts. His only loss in that span came Wednesday, when he gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-1 defeat at Minnesota.
Though the left-hander has never started against the Angels, he’s allowed three runs in nine innings of relief against them in his career.
Jack Hannahan hit two solo home runs in Oakland’s 8-4 loss at Seattle on Sunday. The A’s, who have lost four of six, split that four-game set and have failed to win any of their last 12 series.
“Winning two out of four … it’s not a bad series,” manager Bob Geren told the A’s official Web site.
Jack Cust went 0-for-2 in his first game since leaving Friday’s contest with blurred vision. He is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with four homers against Los Angeles this season.